Empire editorial: Kerttula for District 3 House seat

Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Republican challenger Mike Race is making his third run at besting Democratic incumbent Beth Kerttula for the House District 3 seat. The district, traditionally a Democratic stronghold, encompasses downtown Juneau, Douglas, Lemon Creek and the Juneau airport area.

Race is a hard-working businessman with deep roots in Southeast Alaska. His heart in the right place. He is running because he genuinely cares about Juneau and feels that the best way he can make a difference is by serving in the state House. Race is to be commended for having the courage to take on such a daunting challenge to drive his ideals. It should be noted that while other candidates were raising funds for their own campaigns, he unselfishly sacrificed his time and energy to raise money to fight the Legislative Move Initiative.

Race believes that as a Republican he would be part of the majority party and, therefore, better situated to capture funding for projects in Juneau. His vision for Juneau includes a new capitol complex, more parking downtown, and improved access via a road into town. He also feels that he could do a better job of deepening community ties throughout Southeast Alaska and improve the perception of Juneau's delegation throughout the rest of the state.

Kerttula has established a record of accomplishment during her time in office. She played a key roll in passing landmark cruise ship pollution legislation in 2001. This past year, she served along with Rep. Bill Hudson in the bipartisan Fiscal Policy Caucus working many long hours to produce a long-range fiscal plan.

Even though the caucus failed to get a plan passed, the debate was effective in illuminating the need for long-range strategies to ensure Alaska's financial health. Kerttula pledges to continue working within the caucus to come up with the revenues needed to close the gap. She wants to see a new Mendenhall Valley high school funded and worked on the general obligation bond package going before voters on Nov. 5 that will provide $237 million in funding for school construction projects around the state.

Kerttula believes oil companies and cruise lines should contribute more to help fund state government. During her first term in the House, she was instrumental in heading off the merger of BP Amoco with Atlantic Richfield. The merger would have concentrated too much control of Alaska's oil with one corporation and negatively impacted state revenues. She is supportive of tourism and believes the state should go further in funding tourism marketing. Kerttula has also worked vigorously for better education and logged a good deal of time in Juneau's schools visiting with administrators, teachers and students.

Both candidates want to see the Juneau Access EIS completed and feel the governor did Juneau a disservice by blocking funding for the EIS. Race is staunchly in favor of constructing a road between Juneau and Skagway. Kerttula wants to see more study on a marine alternative before committing to a road.

The candidates each agree that Alaskans should be given the option to vote to amend the state Constitution to implement a rural preference for subsistence hunting and fishing. Race would vote against such an amendment while Kerttula would support a rural preference.

The incumbent has the edge in this contest, however. Although Kerttula's political ideology has at times cut across the grain of the borough as a whole, her views are consistent with the political makeup of District 3. She has worked hard to serve the interests of her constituents and has proven to be a respected ambassador for Juneau.

As the host city for Alaska's seat of government it is important that Juneau has a minority representative who is respected on both sides of the aisle. Kerttula's tenure in the Legislature is especially important to Juneau following the loss of Bill Hudson's many years of distinguished service through retirement.

Don Smith



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