Juneau Reps. Cathy Muñoz and Beth Kerttula showed the teamwork they said is characteristic of southeast Alaska legislators when they split a dozen topics in back-to-back speeches at Juneau’s Chamber of Commerce lunch on Thursday.
Kerttula said one of the greatest strengths of Southeast Alaska’s legislative representation is it unity.
“We mean that we work together,” Kerttula said. “Doesn’t mean we agree 100 percent of the time. We talk about the issues. We actually work together.
“The issue of unity really came home this Monday when the Alaska Supreme Court gave what we think will be the final lines for the 2012 election.”
But with the potential of reconsideration, “you can’t say it’s over before it is really over,” Kerttula said. “The residents of Southeast, we all feel a little like ping-pong balls.”
No matter how the Supreme Court has cut up the state, we are going to lose one senator and one representative in the Southeast, she said.
“We can not continue to lose our population,” she said.
Kerttula said Juneau’s new districts give it a unique opportunity for the capital city and Southeast’s major cities to work together with other communities in the region.
Kerttula and Muñoz both said they believe the future of Southeast Alaska rests in economic development, education and in providing paths to meaningful and well-paid work.
“The last couple of weeks have been nerve wracking for the communities involved in the new districts 31 and 32,” Muñoz said. Regardless of the eventual district boundaries “we will continue to work closely together as a region. I really believe strongly that we need to work for economic development in the region.”
“Working as one as a region, supporting the priorities of our region, in my view, will always be in the best interest of the community and the people that I serve.”
Among several other topics, Kerttula addressed recent changes in efforts to develop Alaska’s natural gas resources.
“Really, one of the biggest things that is happening now is Japan is coming off of its nuclear power, Kerttula said. “By turning toward liquefied natural gas it has sort of reset the stage for Alaska.”
Kerttula said the focus is now on a large-diameter pipeline from the North Slope to tidewater in Alaska – probably shipped out of Valdez.
“It’s hard to say whether that means we’ll get there fast enough,” Kerttula said.
“The world market changes so quickly,” Kerttula said. “We may already be too far behind to meet Japan’s needs.”
“The governor did the right thing,” Kerttula said of Gov. Sean Parnell’s recent focus on a large-diameter, all-Alaska pipeline. “We are hoping this will benefit us all.”
“I can’t express the magnitude of the difference this would make for Alaskans,” Kerttula said. “It is analogous in our day with what happened in the 1970s with (the Trans Alaska Pipeline System).”
“I’m glad to see our efforts shifting along with the world market,” Kerttula said.
• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at email@example.com.