Republican challenger focuses on education as a high priority; resource development also key

Engstrom, Kerttula vie for House seat

Posted: Friday, October 22, 2004

Local musician and window washer Andrew Engstrom will face off against a three-term incumbent Democrat in the Nov. 2 election.

Engstrom, 38, owner of Capital City Windows, said education is one of his top priorities. He said he would work to establish a vocational training school in Juneau if elected to office. Engstrom, a Republican, said he envisions a fully residential vocational-technical training center for Southeast Alaska.

"This can provide young people with the skills they need to create a family-wage income," he said. "It will help reduce our dropout rate and provide employers with a well-trained workforce."

Engstrom also said he would work to increase classroom volunteerism from parents through state-employee-leave incentives.

Engstrom filed paperwork with the state to run for the House District 3 seat representing downtown, Douglas and the Lemon Creek area, on the deadline day in June.

Engstrom's political philosophy follows with his artistic inclinations. He said his top goal for raising revenue is through resource development, noting that he supports the proposed Kensington Mine, just north of Juneau in Berners Bay. This is mirrored in his artistic endeavors. In 2002, Engstrom released a progressive rock album about a futuristic mining planet titled "Volitar - Murder, Mystery and Mayhem." The album includes songs and interludes that tell the story of Volitar. Engstrom said the album took three and a half years to write and includes a cast of 19 characters.

In 1995, he established a window washing business with a friend in Anchorage called Two Dudes Window Washing, but moved to Juneau a few years later, going solo. He also sells window washing kits on the Internet.

Engstrom, like his opponent, Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula, comes from a political family. His grandfather and grandmother, Elton and Thelma Engstrom, served in Alaska's Territorial Legislature. His uncle, also named Elton, served as Juneau's senator in the 1960s.

Andrew Engstrom was arrested in 1998 and charged with drunken driving. He acknowledged the arrest but declined to comment on the incident.

Engstrom said he supports allowing voters to decide whether to adopt an endowment method of managing the Alaska Permanent Fund and to use part of the revenue for state government.

He said he would consider looking at the state's oil tax structure to create revenue but doesn't want to scare off oil exploration.

"I would not be opposed to having conversations, opening up dialogues with the oil industry and saying, 'Hey, look, maybe it's possible at a certain threshold - $50 a barrel perhaps - that you allow us to take an extra dollar in severance tax," he said. "I am not going to say I am not open to looking at that."

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at

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