AK reps soften dispute

Delegates play down differences over oil drilling, logging

Posted: Monday, August 14, 2000

LOS ANGELES -- Alaska delegates to the Democratic National Convention got down to work today, ready to campaign for Al Gore despite major policy differences.

You don't have to agree on every single issue, said Gov. Tony Knowles, who attended the opening day festivities.

The delegates downplayed their dispute with Gore on resource development issues, including logging in the Tongass National Forest and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Gore has led opposition to ANWR development while the Alaska Democratic party supports it. Several delegates to the convention said they might withhold their support over Gore's opposition to ANWR development.

Knowles said he appreciates the work of the Clinton-Gore administration on the economy, education reform and health care.

I do disagree strongly on some natural resource issues, Knowles said. It is just a difference of opinion. We will continue to work to convince them that developing ANWR can be done in a responsible way.

Delegate Rich Listowski of Juneau agreed.

We can't agree on everything 100 percent. he said. The environmental lobby is very strong on a national level. We need to try and convince folks that we can drill in ANWR safely and that it provides jobs for Alaskans.

Listowski, national committeeman for Alaska, is attending his third convention. He is a retired state worker.

Delegate Karl Ohls of Juneau said he is interested in many issues, not just resource development.

The Gore-Lieberman ticket is a hard sell in Alaska, Ohls said. We are very much a resource development state. When Clinton and Gore espouse an environmental philosophy, it registers with a lot of suspicion.

ANWR development is an area of disagreement, but Ohls listed other benefits of electing Gore.

As far as Supreme Court appointments, pro-choice issues and general government policy toward the disadvantaged, I do support Gore, Ohls said.

Ohls, special assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, is attending his first national convention.

Delegate Beth Lape of Juneau describes herself as Democratic to the core and an environmentalist. The ANWR issue doesn't trouble me a bit, she said.

Lape, who works for the Department of Education, said she hopes the convention will inspire and motivate delegates to work to elect Democrats at every level.

We need more Democrats in office, she said.

Cindy Spanyers of Juneau, vice chairwoman of the delegation, said her major goal is to promote subsistence issues.

I hope we can educate more folks about the importance of subsistence rights for rural Alaska, she said.

Also promoting subsistence rights is State Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, who is not a delegate but plans to participate in meetings of Native American groups.

I am here to support the Democratic ticket. Alaska can make a really big difference, Lincoln said. It is not necessarily about how our vote in Alaska impacts the election of Al Gore, but how people in Alaska can embrace this ticket.

As a kickoff to the convention week, the delegates attended a party at the Gene Autry Museum on Sunday night, which featured country-western music. Kristin Gore, daughter of the vice president, attended.

Knowles, who plans to return to Juneau on Tuesday, said he made the brief visit to the convention to give support to the Alaska group and to make my presence here known.

Cindy Spanyers of Juneau, vice chairwoman of the delegation, said her major goal is to promote subsistence issues.

I hope we can educate more folks about the importance of subsistence rights for rural Alaska, she said.

Also promoting subsistence rights is State Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, who is not a delegate but plans to participate in meetings of Native American groups.

I am here to support the Democratic ticket. Alaska can make a really big difference, Lincoln said. It is not necessarily about how our vote in Alaska impacts the election of Al Gore, but how people in Alaska can embrace this ticket.

As a kickoff to the convention week, the delegates attended a party at the Gene Autry Museum on Sunday night, which featured country-western music. Kristin Gore, daughter of the vice president, attended.

Knowles, who plans to return to Juneau on Tuesday, said he made the brief visit to the convention to give support to the Alaska group and to make my presence here known.



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