Valley challengers offer little criticism of incumbent on energy

2 Republican hopefuls competing to take on first-term Democrat

Posted: Monday, August 18, 2008

Several of the candidates running for House District 4, usually called the "Valley" seat in Juneau politics, are glad the Legislature took action to address energy issues in the recent special session. But they would have liked to see them do more, and at less cost.

Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau, the incumbent, is unchallenged in the Democratic primary. She'll face Stephanie Madsen or Cathie Muñoz as the Republican nominee in the fall.

Muñoz, who has been active in Juneau community and political affairs for some time, and Madsen, who has been in Juneau for 10 years but has statewide connections in the fishing industry, will face each other in the Republican primary Aug. 26.

Madsen said she was skeptical of the $1,200 payments, as was Doll.

"My concern is to get the resources to the people who are really struggling," Madsen said.

The session began with legislators considering "energy relief," but when that became politically difficult, the focus was shifted to a "resource rebate."

Doll said she would have preferred a smaller rebate, and more help with energy relief to those who really needed it.

"I would like to see it no more than $500, I think that's plenty," she said.

She said she would have liked to see help targeted at those really struggling.

Madsen agreed.

Munoz was unavailable for comment. A dozen phone calls over several weeks were unable to produce in interview with the candidate.

Madsen lived in Unalaska for many years working for the state's fishing industry, and would like to see programs such as the state's Power Cost Equalization program get more money to enable it to keep up with rising fuel costs.

"In Unalaska, PCE was very critical," she said. She said she'd like to see an expansion of PCE eligibility and additional money for the program.

The Legislature approved some additional PCE help, but rejected an effort in the Senate to extend fuel assistance statewide.

Madsen said she was among those concerned that rising fuel costs could drive people out of rural communities.

"We need those families to stay in their homes in their communities," she said.

The Legislature also added $50 million to a renewable resources fund, for not-yet-specified projects. That was a major Doll priority.

"My gut reaction is, let's look for ways to get that money closer to the people," Madsen said.

"We in Southeast are very lucky to have the hydro that we have. Other communities aren't so lucky," she said.

The other major topic of the just completed special session was the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act license for TransCanada Corp. to develop a pipeline from the North Slope for Alaska's vast gas reserves.

Doll joined the majority in the House in supporting TransCanada, which Madsen said she "probably" would have done as well.

Madsen declined to criticize Doll's performance in the special session, but suggested that might come later.

"I'm focused on the primary right now," she said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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