Green, Libertarian candidates challenge Young

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2002

One candidate wants government to do more to support sustainable, environmentally sensitive development. The other wants government to do less - period.

Russell deForest is the Green Party's candidate for the U.S. House seat held by Republican Rep. Don Young. Rob Clift is the Libertarian Party candidate.

With the new closed primary system, their names will appear only on ballots of party members, or those who chose their party's ballot. But since neither faces opposition from within their parties, both will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

Here's a look at the candidates:

• Russell deForest, Green Party: A mathematician by training and a massage therapist by occupation, deForest is a Fairbanks resident.

"I'm really concerned about a sustainable future for Alaska, a sustainable economy," he said from Fairbanks.

Sustainability is a term for environmentally sensitive development or industry that doesn't use up nonrenewable resources, deForest said.

He said a good corporate example is Georgia-based Interface, an international floor-covering company that recycles many of its carpet products and is working to recycle more.

"It's an example of one of the largest manufacturers saying we can have a business in the future that does not rely on nonrenewable resources," deForest said.

Communities also can pursue sustainable economies, he said. In Alaska, he said sustainability could mean a serious approach to harnessing the wind.

"There's 10 times more wind energy out on the coast of Alaska than what's going down the pipeline," he said.

DeForest, who campaigned on a bicycle ride from Fairbanks to Anchorage, said Young has not pursued sustainability or alternative energy projects enough. The Green Party candidate opposes development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"The most recent disappointment was he tried to hold up legislation for ethanol as a viable fuel," deForest said. "He tried to make the arctic refuge a bargaining chip. That's telling of his efforts to not support creative and important alternatives in exchange for something as impractical as the arctic refuge."

DeForest said he'd vote against moving the Legislature out of Juneau. If elected to Congress, he said he'd push for universal health care and federal funding for rural wastewater treatment and substance abuse prevention programs.

In Southeast, he'd push for a sustainable forest industry, which he doubted would include the sort of mills that dominated the industry in the past 50 years.

"We pay to build the roads and we don't get the same value back in resources," he said. "We'd be better off if we paid the loggers to reforest the areas that have been clearcut rather than paying them to build the roads."

• Rob Clift, Libertarian Party: Clift could not be reached for an interview.

According to the Libertarian Web site, the Anchorage resident is a retired school administrator and a former lieutenant in the U.S. Army who served in Vietnam. He worked for Kuspuk School District, based in Aniak, for 18 years before retiring and moving to Anchorage.

In his Web listing, he said he would reduce taxes, lift economic restrictions, end business subsidies, eliminate federal gun laws and get rid of the Social Security program.

He said he is running on a platform of individual liberty and personal responsibility.

"The Libertarian philosophy that government is limited to those functions delegated to it in the U.S. Constitution, and that government's only function is to protect its citizens' rights and property, was a philosophy he could embrace without conflicts of conscience," the Web listing said. "Neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party are content to limit government to those functions. The Green Party is comfortable with using government force to accomplish its agenda of environmental conservation."

Ed Schoenfeld can be reached at

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