FAIRBANKS — Another Fairbanks primary election full of bullet points has passed. Voters deserve more. Most commercial media cannot provide candidates with the time needed to elaborate, but forums do, if they choose to ask targeted questions.
During this campaign season, jobs were identified by candidates as a top priority, but what jobs? Other than from natural gas, which is a few years away, where are they coming from now? Is it mining, new oil fields, alternative energy, teachers, construction, communications or other?
Education was another top priority. Where? Early childhood, implementing higher standards in secondary, vocational-technical in schools and college?
Developing natural resources is a classic bullet point. Do candidates mean mining, alternative energy, new oil fields, expanding lands for public use including hunting and fishing or other?
The public is most concerned about health care access and cost, and not a word was said about how new federal mandates impact Alaska and what candidates think Alaska needs to do about more affordable health care for the uninsured and affordable plans for small businesses.
Most candidates agreed we need to protect the Permanent Fund Dividend and operate within an affordable budget, but little was said about how to go about that and what to cut.
And there were no bullet points about local health and social services. What about kids at risk, seniors services, public safety, transportation, using grants, public private partnerships and nonprofit organizations to reduce government costs?
Children are Alaska’s future, and to the degree they are well prepared for tomorrow’s jobs, from business to voc-tech degrees, we will have economic growth using Alaskans. Seniors are our fastest-growing population, and we need facilities, activities and affordable housing and energy to keep them here.
What will candidates do to support more public-private partnerships and community grants that are used by our large number of nonprofits to reduce government costs? Nonprofit agencies receiving the Community Matching Grant (from state money and borough services) provided Fairbanks with $19 in services for every $1 received.
And they provided these services to Fairbanks at 25 percent of the cost of state services. Both Fairbanks and Anchorage have been lobbying the state Legislature for years to substantially increase this type of grant funding, with limited success. Will candidates support more increases this next session?
Both candidates and residents can become better informed about health and social service issues (which include jobs, education and transportation) by attending the Candidate Jeopardy Forums: The municipal forum is on Sept. 29, and the state House and Senate forum is Oct. 18, both 5:30 p.m. in the Borough Assembly chambers.
Get specific answers and details, not just bullet points.
Carter Crawford is a community volunteer. Pete Pinney is treasurer of the North Star Community Foundation. Both are longtime Fairbanks residents.