To the editor: After 20-plus years away from the Alaska I was born in and the Fairbanks I was raised in, I can definitively declare that nothing has changed but everything has changed. Sure, the eyesore residential junkyards have multiplied and the box stores have displaced many of the small local shops we used to frequent. My old elementary school now houses the lifelong learning program known as OLLI. My mother’s friends have aged and my friends’ children have grown up. Change happens, of course. The politics of disinformation and betrayal personified and practiced by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, however, is an unwelcome turn. But Alaskans are fighting back through the recall process.
Dunleavy promised to increase the PFD and balance the budget such that no harm would come to Alaskans. It was a winning bait-and-switch strategy for Dunleavy and his Outside backers who likely devised his reckless and ideologically driven budget cuts assuming we are just as polarized as elsewhere. Paradoxically, they served to unite an impressive cross-section of Alaskans to oppose them. The recall effort has created a gravitational center to bring people together from nearly every component of Alaska society, an impressive cross-section of people from across the political spectrum, civic and business organizations, young and older citizens, parents, students and educators.
Recall supporters affirm a constructive future for Alaska, one which requires the governor be removed from office. Although the pressure has forced Dunleavy to retreat on several fronts, many damaging cuts remain. Nothing has changed in his mentality. Just imagine if he fools us again by backing off just enough to produce sufficient complacency to defeat the recall. What would he then be emboldened to undertake in the remaining years of his term?
Much has changed while I was away, but not the depths of care Alaskans have for one another. I’ve signed the recall petition, and I’ll be on board until the last vote is counted and there is a new governor in place. One I’ll likely have little agreement with on policy, but one who will, in practice, have no option except to be responsive to a united Alaska.