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In expressing his disappointment at Sen. Kim Elton's dissenting vote on a recent resolution to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling ("Elton's record of dissent," Juneau Empire, Feb. 14), Publisher Don Smith stated that opening the refuge to drilling "... is consistent with the best interests of the whole state." It galls me that Mr. Smith, like some benevolent sage, apparently presumes to know what's good for me and all other Alaskans. I'm an Alaskan and I am definitely not in favor of opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling. And I dare say, though we may be in the minority, there are thousands of other people like me, in this state, who are not in favor of opening the refuge to drilling. Therefore, obviously, drilling for oil in the Arctic Refuge is not "... consistent with the best interests of the whole state."
I appreciate, and thank, Sen. Elton for his stance on the Arctic Refuge. I appreciate the fact that Sen. Elton doesn't march in lockstep with other legislators, including, at times, his fellow Democrats. I appreciate the fact that he seems to base his voice and his vote on thoughtful consideration of all elements of the issues, on his own conscience and principles and the desires of most of his constituents, and not on some superficial concern about a show of unanimity, particularly when there is obviously not unanimous sentiment on an issue.
In an editorial endorsement of Sen. Elton's opponent prior to the elections, Mr. Smith stated that Sen. Elton was "... out of step with where Southeast Alaska is headed..." (Juneau Empire, Oct. 31, 2002). Well, Sen. Elton was re-elected by the majority, so it might be said that Mr. Smith is out of step with the majority of Southeast Alaskans. But that's OK. That's one of the great things about this country. You can be "out of step," you can be in the minority, you can dissent and still have your voice heard. So far.