Over the past four or five years, Ketchikan has been economically decimated and devastated. Many, many people have lost their jobs and moved out of the state. As a result, our population and tax base have been declining. It is with sad hearts that we watch many young families as well as older, established families leave for greener pastures (jobs) and more viable futures (jobs).
With the closing of our pulp mill and many other related businesses, earnings in the community and surrounding areas have plummeted. This community is hurting in many ways because of the effect of this devastation. The economic depression, the large reductions in school enrollment as families leave, and the loss of long-time community leadership contribute to the devastation.
I am sure that Ketchikan is not the only community feeling the effects of a severely depressed economy over the last few years in this state. Changes must be made for the health and viability of our state. Changes must be made now! I am confident that the Murkowski-Leman ticket will be able to make the significant and positive changes that Alaska must have now. We cannot wait. It is time to responsibly develop our renewable resources that are such an economic asset to our state. It is time to support a strong education system to develop the knowledge and skills in our young people to be able to stay in our state while working affordable jobs. It is time to keep Alaskans in Alaska!
In addition to expressing my support for Frank Murkowski for governor and Loren Leman for lieutenant governor, I also encourage each of you to get out and vote. It is imperative that you participate in the process. The future of our state is at stake. Voting is vital.