Fairbanks Chamber holds forums for AK Governor, Representative races

On November 8, Alaska will elect a Governor and a U.S. Representative.
On November 8, Alaska will elect a Governor and a U.S. Representative.(Alex Bengel/KTVF)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 5:00 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On November 8, Alaska will elect a Governor and a U.S. Representative.

With the primaries for these races in the rearview mirror, the field has narrowed to four candidates in each contest.

To help keep the Fairbanks community informed about these candidates, the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce held two forums.

For the September 21 Governor’s forum, only Bill Walker and Les Gara were able to attend, with Charlie Pierce and incumbent Mike Dunleavy not present at the Westmark Fairbanks.

Candidates discussed the tourism industry, working across the aisle, and food security in Alaska.

Walker said, “I love this state, and all of you do as well. We need to stop. We need to decide are we going to work together to fix this, or are we going to fight amongst ourselves. I want to work together to fix this state, and that’s exactly what we are going to do.”

Gara, meanwhile, discussed abortion rights, saying, “I will never tell you what you can do with your body. It is not my business. It is your business. As somebody who was allowed to marry my wife without anybody ever second-guessing me, that is your business who you marry, not my business. I want people to stay here, to feel welcome here.”

The next day, candidates for U.S. Representative gathered in the same room to take questions from the Fairbanks Chamber, the audience, and each other.

Sarah Palin, Nick Begich and Chris Bye were all in attendance, with incumbent Mary Peltola briefly participating remotely from Washington D.C.

Talking about resource development, Peltola encouraged mining and mineral extraction, saying, “We’ve got to push for national security, energy security, statewide energy security. I think the more long-range goal is to get on more renewable sources of energy, but in the short-term we’re going to have to rely on oil and gas.”

Bye, meanwhile, urged voters not to opt for the lesser of two evils, saying, “I’m about as regular as it comes in Alaska. I am your neighbor. I am your coworker. I am one of your friends. I may go to your church at sometime. I am your boss.”

Begich said the next representative needs to make the business case for Alaska. “Going down to D.C. would be a great honor, to work on your behalf, to help rein in government, rein in the growth of government, and put the private sector back front and center,” he said.

Palin blamed the Biden administration’s policies for the economic problems being seen around the U.S. “We’re the Fort Knox of America, and we can secure the rest of the United States with our natural resources because there’s that inherent link between energy and prosperity, and energy and security,” she said.

Contenders talked about the divisive state of politics in the U.S., resource development, and Alaska’s importance to the rest of the country.

The candidates in both races will face each other in a ranked-choice ballot on November 8.