Legislature is in need of more Democrats

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

I'm not one who speaks out much on politics. Frankly, I don't get over-concerned about which party controls the Governor's House, the Senate or the House. I have, in the past, voted for members of both parties.

I like balance.

But, it seems like every time I pick up a paper these days I read about how out of balance things are in Alaska's House and Senate, especially the Senate.

That's why I have to speak up and declare, quite simply, the Alaska Legislature needs more Democrats.

This year I have followed the debates raging around the capitol more closely than usual. It has become apparent that when one party holds a supermajority, as the Republicans do in both the House and Senate, sound decision making and law making for the good of the public are sacrificed for power and pure political grandstanding.

The other day the House and Senate majorities (28-12 in the House; 14-6 in the Senate) refused to even hear the governor's nominations to the Board of Education, the Board of Fish, the Board of Game and the university's elected student regent. They wouldn't take debate or vote on the nominees before the public. Alaskans volunteering to serve the state are sacrificed to make some mean-spirited political point that the Republicans won't even explain (thank you to Sen. Kim Elton, Rep. Beth Kerttula and Rep. Bill Hudson for voting against the supermajority on this one).

Maybe the Republicans conducted a poll advising them the public didn't care if they subvert the public process on a regular basis.

They seem to rely on polls a lot these days - the polls tell them whether or not a long-range fiscal plan should even be debated and even whether or not they should try once again to move the capitol (major thanks to Sen. Elton for thwarting yet another capitol move attempt by Republican Sen. Jerry Ward the other day).

As I said, I don't care which party is in the majority, but good policy comes from debate, not non-stop polling. The Republican supermajorities have shown that debate won't happen when everyone is on the same side. Let's send a few more Democrats to the Legislature this year to maintain a balance that benefits all Alaskans, not a few legislators' special interests.

Martha Stracener


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