Ketchikan politicians vie for District 1 House seat

Shay, Elkins battle for seat vacated by Rep. Bill Williams of Saxman

Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2004

Two longtime Ketchikan politicians are running as Republicans for the District 1 House seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Williams, R-Saxman.

Williams announced earlier this year he would run for Senate District A. But following the end of the legislative session in May, he decided to retire from politics when his term runs out this year.

Jack Shay, 73, serves on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly. He is a former borough mayor, Ketchikan City Council member and borough School Board member. He also headed up the Alaska Municipal League.

Shay made a failed run for the seat in 1988 as a Democrat. He said he switched parties about four years ago because of the national Democratic Party's opposition to oil and timber development in Alaska.

Jim Elkins, 67, served as a borough Assembly member for six years and describes himself as a lifelong Republican. He is a former bar owner in Ketchikan and has worked as a lobbyist for the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association, the cities of Valdez and Saxman, and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and its school district.

Elkins almost was appointed by Gov. Frank Murkowski last year to fill a vacancy in the state Senate, formerly held by Republican Sen. Robin Taylor of Wrangell. But Elkins was jettisoned by the governor for Sitka stockbroker Bert Stedman, after Elkins criticized Murkowski for eliminating the Longevity Bonus program for seniors.

House District 1 represents the cities of Ketchikan, Saxman, Coffman Cove, Ward Cove and several other small communities.

At the end of July, Shay had raised $3,694 in campaign contributions, and Elkins had raised just over $10,000. The winner of the Republican primary on Aug. 24 will face Ketchikan Democrat Dawn Allen-Herron, 45.

Both Republican candidates said they support Murkowski's Percent of Market Value proposal to restructure the $27 billion Alaska Permanent Fund and use part of the earnings for state government.

Although high oil prices bailed out the state this year, Shay said lawmakers still need to solve the fiscal gap.

"In the last 18 years municipal assistance has dropped over 90 percent," Shay said, adding that this year Ketchikan will receive a little over $200,000 for city services.

Shay and Elkins oppose a state income tax and a state sales tax.

In addition to raising money through the permanent fund, Elkins said he would work to open up public lands for development.

"We've got 100 million acres that the federal government has never conveyed to us," he said, adding that the state should sue the federal government to make more land available.

Shay said the state also should look to the state's oil tax structure for new revenue.

"We don't want to penalize producers and explorers, but we need to get a fair return for our resources," Shay said.

Elkins attacked Shay's credentials as a Republican, calling him an "ex-tax-and-spend Democrat."

Shay said he switched parties because of Clinton-era policies, such as the Roadless Rule, which cut off timber road construction in the Tongass National Forest. Shay said he also disagrees with the national Democratic Party's opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Shay said he would pursue funding for an aquarium visitors center and an arts center in Ketchikan. Shay also said he would work to get the state to return to the multi-party ballot system, which allows members of any party to vote in any primary election.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at

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