LISTEN: U.S. House candidate Alyse Galvin is here to answer your questions

(Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

Challenging Alaska’s lone and long-serving U.S. House representative for a second time, Alyse Galvin is running as an independent with support from state Democrats. What does she see as the biggest challenges facing the state and the nation and what would she prioritize if Alaskans send her to Washington DC?

HOST: Lori Townsend
GUESTS:

  • Alyse Galvin-I, candidate, U.S. House of Representatives

TRANSCRIPT:

This transcript has been edited and shortened for clarity.

Lori Townsend: I have a lot of questions, but start by telling us what your top priorities would be if Alaskans elected you.

Alyse Galvin: Hmm, thank you. Well, first of all, I’m running to make sure that Alaskans can take care of their own. Every family needs to make sure that they can put food on the table, pay their rent, get to have good housing and health care, etc. So I’m running to fight fiercely for the good jobs and the quality education that leads to those good jobs. And of course, the healthcare system that we can navigate and afford. We need to have a champion in Washington that’s fighting for these values. And I look forward to doing that.

LT: We’re, of course, in the middle of a pandemic. What do you think the federal government and Congress have gotten right in The response to this public health crisis and what needs improvement?

AG: Well, it’s been a moving target. And I think that I’m especially appreciative of Dr. Fauci and his work in Alaska, Dr. Anne Zink, who has been coordinating with the physicians who have been doing a lot of work. I think that the state leaders have really done a good job incorporating the local input and Alaskan experts in their decision making in regards to the pandemic, and that’s made a difference. I especially appreciate Dr. Zink’s leadership, and making sure that our response to the pandemic is a non partisan issue. our businesses and our workforce have deeply suffered. I’m sure you’ve heard about this a lot from Alaskans. And I’m disappointed in the lack of leadership on the federal level, to deliver some of the resources to our small businesses. And with regard to what the caregivers have needed as you know, the PC ease and rapid testing and other things like that could have helped open some of our businesses earlier because giving more certainty would have been very helpful.

LT: Well, along those lines of allowing businesses to be open, do you think there should be a national mandate for wearing masks? Or should that decision be made by individual state governors? What would you like to see for leadership on this issue?

AG:Well, I think you know, we do have I don’t think that at this point that makes sense. Although we do have a national public health system that needs to be listened to, and each state is different with this particular pandemic. There are different parts in Alaska and America that haven’t seen a coronavirus yet. And my bigger concern right now is that we have a population that really doesn’t trust the government because of the difference messages we’re getting. It’s been complicated for the average American to listening to any one voice. And I think that’s been tough. And I think an over restrictive masked mandate would only make the situation worse at this point. I think it makes sense to be listening to, like I said Dr. Zink and Dr. Fauci. So far, in Alaska, they’ve been doing a good job of that.

LT: Would you advocate for more clarity, though, from the federal side about the science, it’s become, unfortunately quite political, to decide to wear a mask or not wear a mask. It shouldn’t be political. It’s based on scientific evidence that the doctors have, you know, compiled over these months, and it is a political issue and of course, one state could have a mandate. The next bordering state does not, and how will we slow this down if there’s not more, you know, clear direction, What do you think should happen in that respect, if not a national mandate? What kind of national leadership or push Would you like to see happen?

AG: First of all, I think it’s absolutely as critical that there be an alignment in the information that’s being delivered from the government. That’s caused a lot of problems not having that continuity. And you know, that this is brand new. It’s called the Coronavirus, the new Coronavirus. So we know it’s new. So some things came out throughout time to help better guide that or inform the scientists who then informed us government officials. So I think I can understand some of what happened in the history but to not acknowledge it as soon as it came across, to me, is a problem. It’s created lots of stories getting out about ‘when did we really know this or that?’ and ‘why is it that, this many people died here and not there?’ 

I think a lot of people are asking questions about that. And moreover, Alaskans themselves are suffering, just with the hand of mouth, lack of, you know, fix of this economy, which is really making people suffer. And it becomes more of a question about government transparency and honesty in the leadership. And I think that the federal government has to provide clear information so that the governors and others can make good decisions and unfortunately, that hasn’t been happening, not only clear information, but also provide a solid pipeline for the supplies that are needed in the different states and that also has been. And not having that continuity, I think is how we will be judging all of the way we’ve responded to this.

LT: You held your first drive in rally on Saturday afternoon, a drive in rally. Tell us about what that is.

AG: Yeah, actually, it was my second one. The first one was in Fairbanks and I tell you what, you know, campaigning isn’t what it used to be. We’re in a world pandemic. So we need to be mindful of that. And I have moved our campaign to a virtual campaign in March. But then we’ve made the decision based on, you know, the recommendations of Anne Zink and others, that we can make some good decisions with regard to activities as long as we are innovative and are safe and we decided that you know, what the heck, driving rallies will be fun and there an opportunity for families and Alaskans to come together and hear about issues and more importantly, ask questions that they may be wondering about.

I’m, you know, going to be unseating a 48 year incumbent, that’s going to take developing some trust. So I’m getting out there. I think it’s important that other states see we can do things like this. I also went to a reverse parade in Fairbanks. and I never had heard of it, but why not? The floats were stationary, and for four and a half hours cars drove by us. And that’s kind of the idea that we could do something like this. I know it sounds funny, doesn’t it? But it was great. I’m telling you, it was four and a half hours because everybody and their uncle showed up. They were looking forward to an opportunity to feel safe, but also still feel connected. And that’s what this driving rally was, it’s a galvanizer, if you will. People came in, they tuned to their FM radio to do a certain frequency so they could hear and then when they had questions, they put their questions on little cards outside of their window. Someone came and picked them up. 

LT: All right, well, that does sound like this idea of a reverse parade. It’s pretty ingenious. So it’s good to know that people are coming up with creative ideas to get out there and still engage with each other. We’re going to go to the phones for just a moment. Carly is in Eagle River. Hi, Carly.

CALLER: Hi, I have a question about the role of independent politics in the nation right now. We’re at a time where there’s an enormous amount of polarization and divide between the two major political parties. And I’m wondering to what degree you think independent voters and independent politics can play a role in healing that divide. And especially because Alaska has such a large number of independent non nonpartisan undeclared voters, what role Alaskans can play in healing the divide throughout the rest of the country, and why you’ve chosen to run as an independent.

LT: Alright, Carly, thanks for the questions.

AG: Thanks a lot, Carly. I appreciate that. So I think this is a huge opportunity for Alaska to show the nation again, how people can come together. We’ve done this in other roles. I know we’ve elected a governor this way. In fact, a couple of them. The reason I am running as an Independent is that’s what I am, as over 50% of Alaskans are. And so I’m grateful that I have this chance to run through the primary, get out there a little bit earlier, and show people that we’re done with hyper partisanship. We’re just done. It’s an important time, like I said, for us to prove that. This isn’t a matter of delivering party leaders or people who are bringing the national agenda. This is about delivering for Alaskans and really putting our next generation first partisanship fight to have what has really, is what brought our country to its knees. 

We now need to show that there’s a better way. And I think that we can believe in better by walking the talk. And that’s that’s what I’m doing. You’ll not hear me talk about one party or the other all the time. I just think that inflammatory language only brings us further apart. I served under Republican and Independent governors and led a nonpartisan grassroots movement to restore education funding and improve our schools. The most of our issues really are not about partisan issues. They’re really about people. And that needs to be brought to the forefront bringing republicans Democrats, independents all together to deliver results for Alaskan families. I’m going to do the same in Washington.

LT: If you’re just joining us, our guest today is US House candidate independent AG. We’re taking calls and questions and he just mentioned education. And I wanted to get to the fact that you’ve been very involved in great Alaska schools, the group here. Was it through this work that you first decided to run for office?

AG: It really was through that work. After about five years of this, of going down to Juneau and to DC as a, you know, I was a nonpartisan leader of this group, I thought, ‘Well, you know, we’re doing a lot of good here. We were managing to hold the line on over 100 million dollars in cuts in a bipartisan way.’ But what became clear to me is that if we want lasting change, to better reflect what we value and to make sure that Alaskans, our everyday Alaskans are getting the same chance to visit their leaders, particularly our representative, we need to change up who’s in office. And I think after 47 years, Alaska is ready for a new voice and a new listener. It was really clear to me in doing that work, and remember, I was a volunteer, leading this group that grew from 40 to over 4000. So there were a lot of us with this real need to make sure that our representatives were paying attention. And what I saw was lobbyists and special interests just walk in straight into that door during that advocacy, and really, the parents and community members and grandparents didn’t have that same access. And that’s not the way democracy should be.

LT: You’re a big supporter of public schools. So what’s your response to those who say I want public funded vouchers to send my kids to a private school because public schools are failing kids

AG: Um, yeah. So, the problem with that is that our public schools need to do better. There’s no question about that. And any kind of diverting public funds from public schools will only weaken our schools. There’s been no plan that I’ve seen whatsoever that would lead anyone to believe that that’s going to fix our public schools. And let’s remember, that’s where the greater in Alaska 90% or so of our kiddos are. And look, I’ve been a homeschool Mom, I very much appreciate how important that opportunity is. I’ve also been a public school mom and in the homeschool program, I was through that I went through the public school option. And I’ve been a longtime education advocate. I know our schools can do better and our and frankly, our children deserve better. So that’s really what I’m after, but we need to make sure that we’re not decimating the public schools that already struggle with low enrollment in these remote communities particularly.

LT: We have a question through either Facebook or email from Cheryl that wants to know, how can Congress help improve public education? What do you think you could do if you’re sent to Washington in that regard?

AG: Yeah, so there’s a lot to be said for having someone in there who is a champion for the cradle to career perspective. As somebody who spent 20 years as a mom, who’s homeschooled their kids, who’s worked for the state in education, and who’s worked as an advocate. I know the issues in our state. I know what we can do better. The lack of federal funding, particularly when it comes to special education, but also when it comes to early learning opportunities is really hurting Alaskans. We have the least amount of readiness in kindergarten when our kiddos walk in at five years old. We also have the least amount per capita of opportunities for early learning; that comes from federal funding. That is a problem for us. 

And you’re probably aware that there are kids who are dealing on a daily basis with that, [and it] will affect the federal level of our support. And in some ways, too much testing has been a problem. And that’s a result of federal mandates that we can work on to improve. There are issues that have historic bipartisan success, and I can’t wait to get working on those related to not only the pre K, but also what we can do in after school off opportunities that those are federal dollars, what we can do to make sure that our ESL and are so that second English as a second language, are reading many of the dollars that are kind of extra come in from the federal level vocational training, for example, and apprenticeship. All of that can be supported from federal resources. And that’s what I intend to be a champion in Washington about it. We’re long overdue.

LT: All right, let’s go back to the phones for a moment. Susan is in Bethel. Hi, Susan.

CALLER: Thanks for taking my call. I’m calling concerning the 2020 census. The cutoff date that was originally going to be end of October has been moved up to the end of September, for reasons unclear, and unjustifiable to me. So anyway, the cutoff is a month earlier. There’s a lot of promotion going on to get counted, but the reality is it looks like we’re going to be under-represented and underfunded. Airports roads, schools, health care, federal funding. So should you come on board, and I’m voting for you, should you come on board and be our new representative on this for Alaska, how will you deal with the fact that we’re probably being undercounted as far as figuring out federal funds? And I’ll hang up and listen for the answer.

AG: Susan, thank you so much. This is a real big worry of mine, I’m worried that our people are not getting counted. These last minute changes will disproportionately affect our real communities. So what that will involve is somebody needing to be there articulating that we have been under counted that that’s happening and we need to then listen to the local leaders and get numbers from them and make sure that nobody’s left behind. It affects school funding or hospitals, or roads, many different things. And we need to be, you know, mindful that somebody needs to be shouting about this. It’s things like what we know that during the 2010 census, for example, American Indians and Alaskan Native people were under counted by, oh, around 5%. I think it’s 4.9 or something like that, which is the by far the highest undercount of any group, which means that, you know, we’re being disproportionately affected in Alaska; a fifth of our people are Alaska Natives. And we need to appreciate that and make sure that there’s somebody holding accountable the executive branch who’s making decisions rather quickly without input. This has been an obvious issue that, you know, negatively affects Alaska and yet I haven’t heard anything from Representative, I think Don Young has said nothing. And I will always be advocating for Alaska. I want to repeat again, I’m an independent. I’m in this republic service. I am not here to be a career politician here to stand up for any particular flag or party. For me, this is all about people and our next generation and many generations thereafter. And that means that I’ll be there with a clear voice. Talking about issues like census.

LT: Alright, thank you for the question. Susan. Laurie is in Anchorage, Hello.

CALLER: Hi, this is Laurie from Anchorage. And an issue that’s really important to me is campaign finance reform. And I know that’s a bipartisan issue and I’d like to know how Alyse stands on that.

AG: Yeah, thanks, Laurie. campaign finance reform is, is really everything falls down from money. It starts there, and if we, we can’t know, you know, we need to make sure that what we have going on with money in politics is fully transparent. I often talk about a political industrial complex because that’s what it feels like. And it’s confusing to people. People don’t need this kind of chaos. There’s talk of dark money, how do we know where it came from? Can we really be sure that our representative is truly representing what we value if the money that got them there came from all of these places that are not even related to Alaska? 

In Congress, I will support legislation that will really return the power to the people. It’s as simple as that, including requiring my any outside political group to disclose their donors and spending to the public. And I’ll tell you what, Laurie, I’m walking the talk. I’m not taking a dime from any corporate tax. I think it’s really important that Alaskans know that it’s where they’re where their money is coming from, they should know that. I’ve actually done tutorials on Facebook, little videos helping people know how to look on the FTC and really see where my money’s coming from, where Don Young money’s coming from. It’s really important to me that we restore faith in government. And a key part of that is going to be knowing where money comes from, and where it’s going. I am going to be on this from day one, because we’re never going to clean up our politics unless we can clean up dark money and make sure that all of the people in Alaska know that money and party is not why people are running. I think Alaskans more than any that’s why we have so many independent they want to know that we’re looking after the people of Alaska.

LT: We have a question from an email by Sharon in Palmer. She says as an RN of 40 years, I’d like to know if you have any plans for changes to our health care delivery. I’m especially concerned about the limited, limited and expensive options for our elderly populations. It seems there is a lot of room for improvement, especially if it’s a high priority. So what are your let’s start down that road of health care, and we’ll continue it after the break. But what are your thoughts about Sharon’s question here?

AG: Sharon hits it right on, but that’s what I’m hearing from Alaskans more than anything else, is that the health care system is broken. It’s not covering enough it’s hard for Alaskans to find doctors, particularly our elders who she was referring to. I can’t express enough how frustrating it is. I had both a grandmother and a great uncle who I couldn’t find [a doctor who] would take a patient with Medicare, and the reason for that is that Medicare is reimbursing up in Alaska to cover the cost of care. So that’s the problem. It’s hard. It’s preventing our elders from really leading lives of dignity and respect. And know where our leaders are failing seniors, I believe more than in health care costs and access to care. Our state has the highest health care costs in the nation; I’m not sure if people are aware of that. But it’s true. And Alaskans, our seniors face ever-diminishing choices for their providers — as I’ve mentioned, my own experience — and really, as they are refusing Medicare patients, imagine what that’s like. Really, really tough for them to feel a sense of dignity. 

The Affordable Care Act really isn’t — I think that word affordable, it is a tough word. Because it’s not affordable for Alaskans. It did lay the bedrock for protecting Alaskans for pre-existing conditions. I appreciate that. I also appreciate our expansion of Medicaid. But really, this whole system is why I’m running. The health care costs are too high and they’re strangling small businesses. That’s a big problem. Because if we can’t fix it, we’re never going to see our economy grow. And you can’t just repeal it. I know that’s what my opponent voted to do many times and of course, that would bring extreme chaos and problems to our economy. I think we need to strengthen it and I have some ideas around that.

LT: So let’s get back into a little bit of healthcare before we move on to the economy and climate change and other things that we’d like to we’ve got lots of questions in about you were talking about the high costs right before the break what needs to happen to lower health care costs within the system we currently have. Do you think it’s the arbitrary nature of charges that vary widely by hospital and medical service providers? Is that drug company prices? What’s the main issue from your perspective? and what’s the fix? 

AG: There are a few things that I think we could do immediately that would make our system more efficient and effective. Starting with the costs of prescription drugs, they’re skyrocketing. We all know that every single Alaskan is aware of this. And unfortunately, Congress has done nothing Washington has done nothing. And it’s not too hard to simply allow us to buy drugs from other countries where it’s safe like Canada is a good example. Oftentimes drugs are a 10th of the price and they come from the very same manufacturer. There’s no reason for that. Except unfortunately, I think too many of our representatives are getting money from pharmaceutical companies and you know, my opponent, especially as one of them. Another thing we could be doing in terms of pharmaceuticals is making sure that Medicare can negotiate for lower prices, like we do for Medicaid, like we do for Veterans pharmaceuticals. And we’re now paying in Medicare more than 70% more than those other two that I mentioned. And you could imagine the billions of dollars that we’d be saving not only as a country that has a pretty high deficit, but also to our own pockets. It is unconscionable that we have our elders right now, I’ve talked to them myself, cutting their pills in half. And this is one thing that we could do. 

Also, we should be able to expand health care exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act across state lines that would grow our pool of applicants that would lower the cost overall. That’s another one. And then, to me, it’s important that we think about what we do well as well. So for example, here in Alaska, we have the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, which is doing good work for over 120,000 or so Alaskans at about half the price. And they’re winning international awards for their wellness outcomes. So I think it’s important as a representative of Alaska to take that example, back to Washington and put it on the table and say, Hey, you know, this is something that’s working well, let’s talk about how we might have options for something like this to buy into.

LT: So does that mean that you would support some sort of either something based on the IHS model or a Medicare for all type national health program? Is that something you would support?

AG: No. Absolutely not. I think Medicare for all, especially in Alaska is just it doesn’t cover enough it won’t work here. It’s we’ve already seen what Medicare is doing right now given that we’re not even reimbursing Medicare to the rate of care. And so that’s just not a good fit for Alaskans. Really important that we recognize that not every national program is a good fit for our state.

LT: Would you advocate for something that looks more like the IHS system? Something based on that, that people could buy into or, you know, expand a pool such as that?

AG: I’ve been looking at a lot of programs, and really, like I said, I think that Alaska should be paying attention to what’s working for us, what would bring a solution here. And I want to make sure that we take what is working well. And it’s really critical that we recognize that it’s not the other way around, that we don’t take a Washington program and drop it into our state. It’s very likely that that may not work well, for us. I think a public option in the right setting could be considered, where folks could buy in and it provides competition. You know, that it makes sense that it may work, but we need to sit down and talk to providers that talk to consumers of Alaska. And really, it’s a complicated conversation that needs to happen. And we need to give folks full choices that let the market work.

LT: Alright, we’re gonna go back to the phones in a moment, but I wanted to get a question in first about the federal relief funds that have gone out to the country in the last day. Six months or more now of the pandemic, there has been one twelve-hundred dollar direct payment to Americans. Do you think Congress should send out more relief funds directly to citizens? What would you like to see? The recent effort at another relief package failed, we don’t know when it’ll come back. What do you think should happen now?

AG: I think that our economy right now, and especially the small businesses need urgent support from the federal government. We need to get back to work. We have to get back to work and that’s going to take investment to help people from shutting down their entire business. And that’s going to cost us money, and I’m not real thrilled about that. But we’ve got to appreciate that. There’s going to be a return on investment if we don’t lose our economy from it from this pandemic. First of all, though, I want to make sure that we highlight that we need to conquer Coronavirus to grow more certainty in our economy. We need to keep our businesses open. Though the lifelines are necessary, direct payments to American consumers should be one of the options considered, because it’s keeping us in. And if we see everybody getting pushed out of their apartments or their homes, if they can’t, as we see the food lines growing longer and longer, we’re going to really be in trouble. And it here in Alaska, we’ve got experience with the PFD showing how valuable those direct payments can be to our economy. And we need to keep the businesses and give them a lifeline. We did like you said earlier, and as long as this public health emergency is still surrounding us, we may need to give another and that needs to be absolutely on the table.

LT: Alright, Let’s go back to the phones for a moment. Sally’s in Petersburg. Hi, Sally.

CALLER: My question is about term limits. I feel strongly that that is part of the problem with the partisanship in DC. They’ve gotten such strong ties to each other that they don’t think about the whole, and I just wondered how you feel about that.

AG: Yeah, I absolutely support term limits. We need to make sure that our leaders are serving their constituents. They need to be serving Alaskans in this case. And that means that they’ve been here lately. You know, that’s part of this right. I’ve raised my four kids here in Alaska. They’ve gone through public education here in Alaska lately. I’ve been to the store buying a gallon of milk here. I’ve been in rural Alaska recently, all over the place and all of that matters. I think that it’s important that that person in Washington knows what it’s like to live in their district. And they’ve got experience of what it’s like to work a few jobs and make ends meet someone who’s been hunting here recently in Alaska. You know what I mean? 

All of those pieces, I think, show that the representative is ready to bring the voice from their district, in this case, Alaska to Washington. And I agree with you. I think after that many years of serving in this case, it’s been 48. There’s been some important work done especially when Ted Stevens was serving with our current representative, but you know, after a while, it must get pretty hard if you don’t really spend much time living and breathing the Alaskan life. So sign me up for a turn limit. I’m not ready to be a career politician. I want to get in there and do some good public service, and then I want to come back home.

LT: Alright, thank you, Sally for the question. Tom is in Juneau. Hi, Tom.

CALLER: Hi, thanks for your program very, very much. I don’t know how it is in Anchorage, but here in Juneau, and sporting goods stores, the shelves are empty because, we can call it hoarding if you like, fear of the upcoming election, so far as 22 long rifle ammunition primers, some other kinds of ammo. Congressman Young has been a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment as any Alaskan could hope for. And so I wanted to ask Mrs. Galvin about that, please, and I’ll take it. I’ll take the answer offline, please.

AG: Thanks so much, Tom. You know, I think that’s a really important thing for us all to recognize that Alaska is a gun state. It’s funny how every election it seems like that all of a sudden everybody runs and buys ammo. And I think that, you know, we need to recognize that, you know, this is one place where Don Young and I agree. I’m an Alaskan, I’ve grown up in a family of responsible gun owners. I had a cousin who is a huge collector, and I’ve been taught how to hunt. I understand the importance of preserving our Second Amendment and protecting Alaskans way of life.

LT: All right, so Second Amendment, yes. Let’s move on a little bit. We’re running out of time quickly and we got a lot of ground to cover here. We were talking earlier about federal relief as the pandemic continues and people are so greatly affected jobs and businesses. The deficit and the national debt are Sky High. It was terrible before the pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office reports that the deficit is projected to rise to 98% of the GDP by the end of 2020, the highest expense since 1945. It would exceed 100% in 2021. What’s the way out of this debt? What are your thoughts about that?

AG: Well, I can tell you one thing, we’re not going to climb out of this debt by letting everybody fold up shop and, and get kicked out of their homes. That’s not gonna not gonna fix this. We’ve lost, here in Alaska, 39,000 jobs due to the pandemic. And we’ve got to get that under control. It’s going to require a robust economy. And that’s going to take some good decisions around how we’re going to get money stimulating again, how we’re going to get it moving through our system. And the old solutions for Alaska just aren’t working. The lack of that visionary leadership is missing. I think what we have to remind ourselves is that we have solutions. We have it all right here. We’ve got talent, we’ve got natural resources. We’ve got incredible research being done here in Alaska. We just need the leadership to connect the dots. We need someone in Washington DC telling our story, and getting out and getting the resources that we need. I’ll do that by, you know, promoting responsible development of our natural resources, protecting our social security, expanding educational/vocational training opportunities. By golly, we need Alaskans in those jobs. And lately we haven’t, 25% of our jobs have been held by people outside. That’s because we’re not investing in our education to make sure that we are connecting the dots and need to invest in innovative infrastructure and really help Alaska transition to the economy of the future.

LT: And when you talk about responsible development, the federal government is pressing ahead with oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, hoping to hold a lease sale by the end of the year. What do you think about this? Is this appropriate?

AG: Well, I think I’ve made it clear that I’m a supporter of responsible oil exploration. And 1002 is one area of the ANWR, that’s been an area that shows some promise. There’s some promise all over the North Slope and south of it. And this is one thing that we do well. I support exploration. I strive and I will continue to strive to maximize Alaska hire for any other work done in ANWR. I’ll tell you what, I was disappointed to see that the state is only going to get 50% of the ANWR revenue, rather than the 90% previously secured by Senator Stevens, I don’t know what happened in that deal. But somehow Don Young didn’t make sure that we got our full value. We were shortchanged.

LT: So you think if the government were able to have a lease sale by the end of the year, you’d be okay with that.

AG: I think that we need to still, yes, absolutely. We need to make sure to stick with what we have with our regulations. And you know, we’re set up for this. This is what we do. Well, Alaska has been it, you know, for over four decades, handled on onshore drilling well, and I think that we need to make sure to keep up with what we’re doing well, as we know that in the next decade or two, we need to be thinking about the next jobs. And that’s the kind of person I look forward to, you know, I am going to represent all of Alaska and the next generation.

LT: The president’s son and other prominent conservatives came out against the Pebble Mine recently, and then the Army Corps of Engineers imposed mitigation requirements that may be tough to meet. What are your thoughts about the Pebble Mine proposal? Do you think the process has been fair? And do you think it should proceed?

AG: Well, I’ve been listening to a lot of people in that area. And I have to say, I’m opposed to the Pebble Mine project. Maybe this is one area where I agree with the president’s son. It’s the wrong mine in the wrong location. And it represents too big of a risk to Bristol Bay, which is another important piece of our economy, the greatest salmon fishery in the world. Alaska is a natural resource state. And mining is a key part of our economy, however, you know, so are fisheries, and I am opposed to the Pebble Mine project because they have not demonstrated that current technology can overcome that threat to Bristol Bay.

LT: Let’s look at climate change. We’ve got a number of questions from listeners about that. Diane and Wrangell wants to know, how will you address climate change through initiatives and opportunities your office can take part in to support our state, the US and the earth?

AG: Hmm, thank you for that question. I was there last June, looking to see and visit with people in the Fish Camp. And unfortunately, it was a ghost town at that time. There’s a whole lot of erosion along the river. We’re not sure exactly what caused the lack of fish last season, but you know, a lot of our communities are really experiencing all kinds of issues around the climate crisis. Whether it’s Newtok or Shishmaref, right, we know that there are crises there. There’s a lot going on where we’re seeing the climate crisis at twice the rate of the rest of the country. But you know, with every crisis, there’s an opportunity as well. 

While we know that we’ve got acidification of our waters that — gosh, I think they’re now twice what the lower 48 is experiencing and it’s deeply affecting our fisheries. The cost of energy in rural Alaska is still not at all solved. whole communities are needing to be moved, like I mentioned Shishmaref. They’re sinking into the ground due to climate change. At the same time, when I mentioned opportunity, we have some of the best solutions in the country. In this state, you know, we’re already doing things. The most microgrids in the United States per capita, we’ve got natural gas on the North Slope and Kodiak and other places. We have great examples of wonderful energy that’s locally resourced, and we have the experts at UAS, who, you know, they know, more than anywhere else in the world on climate change study. And when I mentioned Kodiak, I should get back to that, because I think it’s such a great example. But we’re there at non hydro power.

So it’s about 60/40. They’re doing great work. So we’ve got some good solutions here at home, but we need the leadership to deliver it. So I’m running a minute. I don’t know if you know, but my opponent, you know, he doesn’t believe that climate change is human gods. How are we living in 2020, with a representative who’s been in for 48 years, and he still says that climate change is not human costs. How is that going to work with us? How are we going to move us into the next generation of thinking if he doesn’t agree with that?

LT: We’ll revisit that issue, no doubt in future reports on climate and as we have you on for debate for the state in October. Let’s go back to the phones now. Wasillie is back in Napaskiak.

CALLER: Hello, Hi. One question, where do you stand on healthcare, also known as Obamacare?

AG: On health care, I very much support making sure that every Alaskan can have low cost health care that they can afford that works and the Affordable Care Act. While it is doing a good job, unfortunately, it’s still not affordable, it’s still too expensive. So I think we need to find ways to lower that cost. I mentioned that one way is to allow us to be able to work with other states to increase the number of people buying it. That will lower the cost. Frankly, health care is one of the main reasons I’m running, sir. I want to make sure that we’re not strangling our small businesses or making our people live in a way where they don’t feel dignity. They’re, they’re embarrassed that they can’t have health care. We need to fix it and we can’t just simply repeal it.

LT: Alright, let’s keep moving along here. We only have a couple minutes left and I’ve got a couple questions I’d really like to get to candidate Galvin. Do you believe there is systemic institutionalized racism in America’s legal employment and social support systems? Do you think that the protests that we’re seeing across the country are raising legitimate issues about the justice system and in equal treatment of people of color?

AG: Yeah, Yes, I do. I think that we have much to learn from our own state history of systemic racism against indigenous people. You know, we can go all the way back to Elizabeth Peratrovich and her speech that she gave in Juneau. I don’t know if you recall, but pretty darn moving. Let me just say, she said, “Look, these signs that say no Natives allowed, no dogs allowed. At the same time. How can we say that racism does not exist in our state?” So this is really preventing us from moving toward a brighter future. I look to listening to the peaceful activists who are sharing their concerns, but then tying it to reform that makes sense. Reform that we know will systemically bring more parity to our education system, our healthcare system or housing system, right? There are many ways and we need to reform policing policies as well as practices within the criminal justice and prison systems that are disproportionately affecting indigenous and black people here in America. I would look at data driven decision making. I’ll be a champion for a strong reentry program from prison and drug treatment programs. People must have support they need in recovery, and find meaningful work, get back to school, reunite with their families, lead full lives in dignity.

LT: Alright, thank you for that answer. We only have about a minute left and I just want to grab a couple quick questions here that have come in from email. One question was how many rural Alaskans are employed on your campaign?

AG: Hmm, let’s see. I think we have two on our campaign presently. Great question. Let’s see, we also have one American Indian. So that’s three. I want to say that might make us about maybe close to 19%, roughly what we are in Alaska. So let me tell you that we’re still hiring. So anyone out there who has interest, please join us or join our team as a volunteer. We want to be fully representing our entire state.

LT: All right. Here’s a question from David that says what corporate PACs has Miss Galvin refused to take money from.

AG: Hmm, good question. I can tell you this, let me be clear that I’m not taking money from any corporate PAC, but I’m trying to remember who has asked me, and I cannot recall anyone asking, but I haven’t really made it clear that that door is open. I’m really trying to bring us back to Alaskans knowing who I’m running for and intend to serve. I have more Alaskan contributors than any House race in the history of Alaska, any U.S. House race, so I will tell you how grateful I am that this is becoming a very clear race of the people and happy to dig into the FTC. Like I said, I think it’s important that we have full transparency that everybody appreciates where money’s coming from, we need to get rid of all the special interests.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori