Other parties offer unique views of the state's future

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Libertarian, Green and Republican Moderate gubernatorial candidates say they offer visions of Alaska's future the other parties don't.

Libertarian Billy Toien, Green Desa Jacobsson and Republican Moderate Dawn Mendias face no party opposition in the Aug. 27 primary and have maintained a lower profile than candidates in contested races - so low that none reported spending more than $2,500 on their campaigns and two of the three didn't return calls requesting interviews. Their followers are few - out of 453,252 registered voters in Alaska, 7,056 are Libertarians, 4,647 are Greens and 2,896 are Republican Moderates.

But they say they want voters to take their candidacies seriously, even if they don't have a chance of beating well-funded, high-profile major party candidates in the November general election.

The candidates are:

• Billy Toien, Libertarian Party: Toien, who has run for the Legislature as a Libertarian in the past, did not return phone calls or e-mails about his candidacy. The party's Web page carried no information about his candidacy, and searches of the Internet and some other electronic archives showed little about his latest race.

The party's platform, listed on its Web page, calls for an end to welfare, the decriminalization of illegal drugs and a drastic reduction in government operations.

"We support the elimination of all taxes to be replaced by a system of voluntary contributions and user fees for services rendered," the platform said. "We ... advocate the repeal of zoning laws, government-instituted building codes, and laws giving credence to the principles of eminent domain."

In 1996, when Toien unsuccessfully ran for an Anchorage House seat, he said he moved to Alaska in 1977 and was interested in ultra-light aircraft and airships.

According to the state elections division Web site, in his election pamphlet statement he attacked the state's law-enforcement system.

"The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!"

• Desa Jacobsson, Green Party: Jacobsson, a former Juneau resident who lives in Anchorage, is in her second try as the environmental party's gubernatorial candidate. In 1998, she won 3 percent of the vote in a five-way race, enough to keep the party on the ballot.

She did not return calls or e-mails to comment for this article.

According to her party's Web page, Jacobsson is a Native activist and a faculty member of a group called Mending the Sacred Hoop to Stop Violence Against Women. She was arrested in 1989 and 1999 in subsistence fishing protests and fasted in 1999 to call for subsistence law changes and again in 2000 to bring attention to the murders of Anchorage Native women.

In an Empire interview earlier this year, Jacobsson stressed her continued advocacy for subsistence and other Native issues. In one example, she protested a legislative appropriation to promote drilling for oil on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"I find it interesting that again when we have such a financial crisis the Republican Legislature finds another $1 million to fight the Gwich'in on ANWR. There's plenty of money to fight on Native issues," she said, noting Democrats including Gov. Tony Knowles also supported the appropriation. "You cannot tell a Democrat from a Republican anymore."

In the interview, Jacobsson said she favored a cruise ship head tax. She also supported a seasonal sales tax to capture money from nonresident workers and a $100 annual tax on employees. Both have been proposed to increase state revenue from out-of-state workers.

• Dawn Mendias, Republican Moderate Party: Mendias, who lives in Chugiak, is in her second try for public office. She ran on the Republican Moderate ticket in 1990, winning 10 percent of the vote in a three-way race for Republican Sen. Rick Halford's seat.

Mendias, a retired teacher, calls herself an angry grandmother and a political activist. She said she decided to be the Republican Moderate party's top office-seeker as an alternative to other parties.

"The Republican Moderate Party has no platform other than to listen to the people and that is what I think is missing in everything else," she said from Michigan, where she was visiting her mother.

Mendias said a major priority for her would be increasing taxes on the petroleum industry.

"The oil companies are not being taxed enough," Mendias said. "Nobody wants to hear that because nobody wants to do anything about it."

She supports construction of a proposed natural gas line from the North Slope, possibly by the state.

"Maybe it could be done by us hiring out, not just giving over," she said, adding a gasline would provide additional income for the state.

Other sources of revenue to balance the state budget gap, such as sales or income taxes, should not be considered until oil and gas pay a larger share, she said.

Another priority would be changing the state's schools.

"I believe in discipline and back to the basics," she said. "And I do not believe in an exit exam - especially the one they have."

Mendias, who taught foreign language and social studies, faulted the test for focusing on abstract instead of practical mathematics. And she said it should include some basic knowledge of voting rights and government operations.

Mendias supports putting a constitutional amendment establishing a rural subsistence preference before voters.

She said she didn't realize a measure on the November ballot calls for moving legislative sessions to the Matanuska-Susistna Borough or Anchorage. But she supports such a move.

"I would like to be able to go to sessions and holler and scream when I want to and of course I can't," she said. "Maybe proximity to angry people would help them."

Ed Schoenfeld can be reached at eschoenfeld@juneauempire.com.

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