Alternative candidates claim they differ from the same old same old

Third-party, nonpartisan hopefuls say they've got slew of ideas

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tired of the same old political rhetoric?

Third-party and nonpartisan candidates in the U.S. Senate race say they have a slew of alternative ideas for Alaska's future.

Here's a sampling:

Ted "Big" Gianoutsos, 62, of Anchorage, wants to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development but with a major string attached: a perpetual endowment to protect its wildlife.

Green Party candidate Jim Sykes, 54, of Palmer, and nonpartisan candidate Marc Millican, 47, of Anchorage would lobby to push a natural gas pipeline through Alaska instead of the currently proposed route through Canada.

Libertarian candidate Scot Kohlhass' major dream is converting the federal lands in Alaska into private land.

Gianoutsos, a former federal employee who moved to Alaska in 1999, collected a whopping 40,000 signatures, securing his spot on the Senate ballot. He believes Alaskans are tired of the same faces in the state's top political offices. Gianoutsos said he would push for veterans' homes and hospitals in Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage.

The fact that 51 percent of Alaska voters haven't registered with the Republican or Democratic party shows that voters don't believe either party is defending their interests, said Sykes.

"Both (Democrat) Tony Knowles and (Republican) Lisa Murkowski have generally supported corporate rights over people's rights," Sykes claimed.

Sykes said he would fight for: cheap, universal health care for all U.S. citizens; shifting to renewable energies as quickly as possible while obtaining fossil fuel for Alaskans from state lands; ditching President Bush' No Child Left Behind educational reform act and replacing it with a reward-based system; improving foreign relations; and purging special-interest money from politics.

Candidate Jerry Sanders, of the Alaskan Independence Party, could not be reached for comment. He has come out in support of asserting greater state control and ownership of Alaska's land.

Millican, a commercial pilot, said he would fight to open ANWR and improve veteran services in Alaska. He believes Alaska's subsistence hunting and fishing rights need constitutional reform to improve rural residents' access.

"My main issue is that; this campaign will be a success if we can make the Libertarian Party grow," said Kohlhass, 45, of Anchorage. He said the party has fallen on hard times in Alaska despite its "glorious history" in the 1970s and 1980s, with the high mark in 1982, when Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dick Randolph achieved 14.9 percent of the vote.

"There's a real Libertarian tendency in Alaska," Kohlhass said, adding he was trying to revive that by talking to young Alaskans about the marijuana ballot initiative and the party's effort for a draft registration freeze in Anchorage.

Sykes and Gianoutsos complained about the blocking of third-party and non-partisan candidates from televised debates.

Gianoutsos speculated that the Republican and Democratic campaigns, which are neck and neck, are worried about potential inroads from himself. He downplayed the other third-party candidates' ability to win.

"I think there's the makings of a perfect storm here," he said. "It might happen," he said.

• Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at elizabeth.bluemink@juneauempire.com.



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