Democratic candidate Bob Doll, former director of the Alaska Marine Highway System, says he is running for House District 4 to fix the state's fiscal gap.
Doll, 68, has repeatedly criticized his opponent, incumbent Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, during the campaign for his membership in the Republican majority and its controversial decisions, such as eliminating the state's Longevity Bonus program for seniors.
He said he was inspired to run after having attended the Alaska state Democratic convention in Anchorage last May and because of his disappointment in the Murkowski administration.
"I became exasperated at the way the marine highway was being operated and at some of the initiatives of the Murkowski administration," Doll said.
Doll has raised $23,440 in campaign contributions to Weyh-rauch's $57,854.
Doll spent 35 years in the military, serving as a U.S. Navy captain for the last 30.
He has repeatedly condemned the Alaska Legislature's Republican majority for not solving the fiscal gap and said Republicans' refusal to approve revenue measures has resulted in the state passing the buck to Alaskans through budget cuts.
"When I ran a destroyer squadron with 2,000 men in it, there were plenty of men out there that wanted to make their problem my problem and I steadily refused to do that," he said. "What the majority in the Legislature is doing is making their unwillingness to attack the fiscal gap a problem for everybody else in Alaska."
He said he would resist imposition of a state sales tax, but beyond that he said he's willing to consider any revenue measure. Those include an income tax and use of the Alaska Permanent Fund. Doll, however, said use of the permanent fund is a regressive tax, adding that he would be reluctant to use it without imposing other revenue measures.
Doll said he's visited 2,300 homes in District 4 and witnessed a broad range of economic classes.
"It is absolutely representative of the country as a whole," he said. "And while there may be more high-end properties in District 4, there certainly are lots of low-end properties too, so those are the people most concerned about tapping the permanent fund."
District 4 represents residents in the Mendenhall Valley and points north.
He acknowledged that House Republicans, including his opponent, have passed a variety of revenue measures that failed in the Senate, but said if House Republicans can't convince their Senate colleagues on a solution, then they should be replaced. Doll said he understands the political risks of approving taxes but said lawmakers must be leaders.
"Why at the age of 68 would I want to get into this business - because I don't care if I'm elected again or not. I care about the people who have needs in Alaska that are not being addressed because there are people in the Legislature who want to be re-elected."
He said the state should inflation-proof education funding and restore revenue sharing for cities, a program cut by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2003. Doll, a former executive director for the interest group Better Ferries for Alaska, criticized Murkowski's decision to move ferry administrators from Juneau to Ketchikan earlier this year. He said if he were still in charge of the ferry system he would make public service the system's top priority.
"I would also make it clear to the administration that the same economic forces that are piling money into the state's general fund also costs the marine highway more money," he said, noting that $50-a-barrel oil increases the ferry system subsidy.
He acknowledged that the move of the ferry headquarters and talk of privatizing some ferry routes can't be stopped by the Legislature, but added: "It can be stopped if the Legislature or the ruling majority in this case is willing to impose a penalty on the governor for doing something they don't like."
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