The two candidates running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives are basing their platforms on issues including public transportation, nuclear missile defense and renewal of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
Dae Miles of Fairbanks and Clifford Mark Greene of Juneau ran against each other two years ago in a three-way primary with Frank Vondersaar, this year's Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Greene won the 2000 primary election with 33 percent of the vote, but lost in the general election against 30-year incumbent Rep. Don Young, who won with 70 percent. Greene took 17 percent in that election.
Young is the 10th highest-ranking member of the U.S. House and chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
Neither Greene nor Miles has held elected office.
Greene, a paralegal who has lived in Alaska for about two years, said he is running largely over concern about U.S. missile defense and nuclear weapons policies. He said the Bush administration's push to militarize space and develop new kinds of nuclear weapons that can hit more strategic locations has set a dangerous precedent for other countries developing similar weapons.
"The Bush administration has set us off on a dangerous course," Greene said. "I think countries are less likely to go along with the whole idea of controlling nuclear weapons if the United States is not going to be a leader."
Greene said Bush also has taken a unilateralist approach in foreign policy, choosing to reject other world treaties such as those establishing an international criminal court, banning the use of land mines and instituting a comprehensive test ban treaty for nuclear weapons.
He chastised Alaska's congressional delegation on their push to militarize space, calling them the "pied pipers of reckless nuclear policy."
"All the federal money they bring in won't mean much if nuclear destruction comes to pass," Greene said.
Greene also said he would push for a national health care system and government programs to provide more affordable housing.
Miles, a Web designer and cabin builder, has run multiple times for mayor, school board and borough assembly in his home town of Fairbanks. He said every citizen should run for public office at least once.
Miles does not support opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, citing Exxon's inaction in cleaning up oil spilled in Prince William Sound in 1989. That also is a reason to not renew the state's contract with oil companies for use of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, he said.
"It doesn't seem like we got a very good deal in the last 30 years," Miles said. "They are paying us very little for our oil, and they haven't even paid for the Exxon Valdez oil spill."
The state should take control of the pipeline and 100 percent of the revenue generated by it, Miles said.
"We can run the pipeline ourselves and directly hire Alaskans to maintain it," he said.
He said it would take only one state lawmaker to submit a letter to the governor for the state to assume control of the pipeline, but did not give details on where such a process is written in law or how the procedure would work.
Building a strong public transportation system also is a fundamental part of his political platform. Miles said he would pursue funding to build a rail system to run between Anchorage and Wasilla.
He said Young has done little to increase transportation options.
"He's the head of the Transportation Committee," Miles said. "Has he done anything for public transit that will actually improve transportation options in our country?"
Mile said he would push to cut back on highway projects across the country and propose environmentally friendly alternatives such as inner-city rail systems and more buses.
Instead of investing in a missile defense system, Miles said, the money should be used to provide a college education to every college-aged person in the country.
"Now what would be better for improving our economy than a well-educated population and for improving understanding with the rest of the world?" Miles said.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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