We are disturbed by the attempt to recall Sen. Ben Stevens. The two issues the recall is based upon are allegations of corruption related to Stevens' consulting job and sponsorship of Senate Bill 155.
The first allegation is not factual, but based on the assumption that Stevens cannot separate his private consulting relationships from his public service as a senator. The state doesn't require legislators to quit their jobs before entering office. Many other legislators also have consulting jobs. Where's the evidence of corruption in Stevens' case?
The second issue is equally weak. Stevens sponsored a bill, SB 155, which would have paid for deferred maintenance and construction of K-12 schools across the state using a portion of the Permanent Fund earnings. Stevens' attackers allege this is a raid on the Permanent Fund dividend, which is false and misleading for those who don't understand the details of how the dividend is calculated each year. Also, SB 155 was co-sponsored by 12 other legislators. If legislation using the permanent fund earnings is such a problem, why aren't the other 12 legislators being taken to task?
We think it is important to relay our experiences with Stevens for those who have not had the opportunity to work with him. Stevens, who is an experienced fisherman, has worked endlessly since becoming a senator to help the entire fishing industry through difficult and changing times. His efforts with the United Fishermen of Alaska and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute have played an important role in the revitalization of the industry and many of his actions have been at the request of UFA. Stevens has always treated us with respect, even when we have not agreed on issues. We can see how some who do not know him well may interpret his actions as arrogant. His demeanor is reserve and straight-forward, but to us it is refreshing to have a politician tell us exactly what he thinks, whether we like it or not, rather than tell us what we want to hear. This may not be the best thing for his popularity, but doing what one thinks is right isn't necessarily popular.
We believe Stevens has done a tremendous job helping and supporting the fishing industry in Alaska. Stevens is an asset for the people of Alaska. We are thankful to have him working on our behalf.
Gig and Julie Decker
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