I trained all year to proudly participate in one of the greatest races on Earth: the Iditarod, which starts Saturday. Unfortunately, emergency surgery has prevented me from racing for the 30th time this winter. In the last three decades of racing, the event itself hasn’t changed much, but Alaska has.
This year, when I look at my state, I see broken promises, ineptitude, and a lack of integrity. Not from the people of Alaska but from the individual elected to lead us: Gov. Mike Dunleavy. He doesn’t reflect the values we hold dear. Any successful musher isn’t afraid to switch out a team leader when that leader is doing a poor job. We can and must make a switch in Alaska’s leadership and successfully remove Gov. Dunleavy from office.
When mentoring younger mushers, I teach them they must, first and foremost, feed their team. In order to get food drops along the trail and in every dog lot, sponsorships are needed. To get to the finish line — a full recall of Mr. Dunleavy — the recall campaign needs your sponsorship in the form of a signature on one of the hundreds of recall petitions circulating throughout the state. We need 71,252 signatures to get the recall on the ballot. Make one of them yours.
Here is other crucial advice I give new mushers, which can also apply to the recall:
• Manage your speed. This campaign is a marathon, not a sprint.
• Be calm and assertive. Encourage others to support the recall.
• Be relentless about what is important to you. Donate to the effort, sign a petition, vote.
It’s time we hold Gov. Dunleavy accountable. If governing was like racing, he’d have scratched the first month. You can’t just buy a mushing championship; Dunleavy’s election was bought by a brother in Texas. He hired an outsider, Donna Arduin, to go after Alaskans we hold dear in Pioneers’ Homes, our schools, universities, and folks on ferry routes. No-bid contracts smell like a dog lot in springtime. He’s taken the easy way out on every occasion, striking off lines in a budget instead of finding solutions. Whether it’s a lack of empathy or intellect doesn’t matter to me. It’s just poor leadership.
It’s time for a new leader in the long, tough race that is Alaska’s future. Life threw me a curveball with the need for surgery, but my plan was to hit the Iditarod trail and dedicate my 30th run to the recall. I’m asking you to support the recall effort. Sign a petition as soon as possible and, when the time comes, vote to remove Gov. Dunleavy from office. One last piece of advice: Know what’s right for you, then do what’s in your heart and be proud. We only have one shot.
Jeff King is a four-time Iditarod champion. He lives in Healy.