My turn: Every Alaskan should focus on taking care of what matters most

Posted: Thursday, April 09, 2009

I have lived in Juneau for 16 years this June. I consider myself to be a liberal who stands on the moderate or conservative edge of that liberalism. I am a registered Democrat. I am a Christian and evangelical. I own my own business, and work hard in keeping it open to serve the population. I pay my taxes - property, sales, income and business tax where appropriate. I volunteer in my community and give as charitably as possible. I pick up litter and scoop my dog's poop.

None of the above matters, other than to say that I am a fairly average citizen. I know there are many others like me here. As a citizen of Juneau, Alaska and the United States, I am quite disappointed in the way some of us are behaving. I ask for each one of us to consider the following requests as a plea for us to learn to live together with some manner of civility.

First, can we please stop reporting or gossiping about members of Gov. Sarah Palin's family? Or anyone else's for that matter? During the campaign, Barack Obama remarked that "kids" are off limits to the press and their behavior is a private matter. I agree. There is no need to report on every mistake or turn every situation into a media blitz. Let the kids and in-laws, siblings, step-siblings and any other remote member of the families of our officials remain out of the news and allow them to live and learn from their mistakes the way most of us do - in private.

Second, there is a list of four potential candidates for the Juneau district Senate seat, all of them qualified to serve as an appointed and confirmed member of the Senate. I believe the residents of Juneau should have a true representative from the longer term population of Juneau to serve as our senator or representative until the next election. The seat in question belongs to the Juneau constituency, not the governor or for that matter the Senate.

As a voter I can assure you I can accept any of the four - Rep. Beth Kerttula, Jeff Bush, Sally Smith or Mike Miller - in the Senate. I trust them to complete Kim Elton's term. Please move beyond any personal or political motives and appoint and confirm one of them soon. Continuing to go around the process most people assume to be correct according to tradition is delaying the appointment and drawing attention away from the important matters at hand in this session.

Third, Mark Begich should be allowed to complete the term in office to which he was elected. Yes, perhaps the results would have been different if former Sen. Ted Stevens' trial had turned out differently prior to the election. But it did not. What is done is done.

Now, to all elected officials and citizens of Juneau and Alaska: In the weeks during which all of this has occurred, what has the Legislature, the media, the governor and the Democratic or Republican parties done to make sure our children are not walking to school under dangerous conditions in substandard clothing? Who is feeding the hungry while we are bantering and picking on one another over these issues? What did anyone do today to make a difference in the life of one elderly person? What did you do to make sure every child has a book to read, a warm bed to sleep in, and both dinner and breakfast each and every day?

Please let us each pledge ourselves to taking care of what matters most first. In the long term, no one will remember who took Sen. Kim Elton's seat, nor who the governor of Alaska was, or any member of the House or Senate. But someone will remember who cooked at the Glory Hole or served the children their oatmeal in elementary school. Someone will remember who helped them get a job in these hard times.

And someone will remember the kindheartedness of the governmental systems in our state and city if we can work together to weather these economically challenged times.

• Kim Poole is a resident of Juneau and local business owner.

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