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An Alaska we can believe in again, together

Like many of you I’ve spent most of my life working hard, finding a ways to jump over the roadblocks too many people face when we’re not raised with wealth and privilege. I grew up in foster care after my father was killed by a robber one night at his office. You’ve all had hardship in your own ways. I’ve learned from experience that everyone, regardless of background, deserves the right to succeed, to good schools, and find a way to a good-paying job. All people should have a fair chance to enjoy life and thrive.

Today we’re at a crossroads. I think we should take the road to a better future. Alaskans have been pitted against each other for too long. We can’t keep fighting over whether to support good schools, or construction and energy projects that will put people to work, or law enforcement, or a strong University, or our children and seniors, or a strong PFD.

I’d rather build an Alaska we can believe in again, together.

Last year 8,800 more people moved from Alaska than moved here. We can do better than a University that’s lost thousands of students, faculty, staff, and over 150 degree and voc. Ed, programs. That just harms the economy and trains fewer people to work in Alaska.

I believe a big part of the solution is getting a fair share for our oil. I always stood for a fair share as a legislator. We should be equal partners with an oil industry that produces good-paying jobs. But lobbyists and our Governor have made us junior partners.

I’ll work to end roughly $1 billion in unjustified oil tax subsidies we can’t afford. Governor Dunleavy was the deciding vote to pass those “tax credit” subsidies a legislator. I voted against them. Those subsidies come at the expense of schools, children, needed construction and infrastructure jobs, and a stronger PFD than this Governor has ever produced. He’s handed oil companies the money we need to build a better future.

I’ve voted to stand up for schools, children and seniors, and passed comprehensive protections for abused and neglected children. That work has resulted in awards, including from the Trump Administration.

This week an Anchorage news article indicated party values might come before the rights of all Alaskans in this Governor’s race. I think party politics should take a back seat. That’s why I worked hard to help elect and organize a coalition in the State House in 2017 of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The best ideas don’t come from one party. This Governor has put party politics in the driver’s seat.

We can put thousands of people back to work on shovel-ready construction, maintenance and renewable energy projects across Alaska. Instead, we’re ignoring over $2 billion in mushrooming state and University deferred maintenance projects.

Alaska has become a state of austerity and unaffordable oil company subsidies. I want a state with opportunity.

I’ve voted to protect our rivers and fish, for Alaska’s current responsible mining and oil development, but against the toxic Pebble Mine. We can’t afford a Governor who’s still pushing Pebble on behalf of Canadian mine executives. That proposed project, as even our current and prior Republican and Democratic Presidents agree, stands as a threat to the world’s greatest remaining salmon runs. Pebble gives good mining projects like Fort Knox a black eye.

I believe in personal freedom, in a real way not as a slogan. And I believe in your rights to privacy and in equal rights for all. I’m proud I’m the only candidate in this race who believes women get to make their own health decisions, and that people deserve equal rights. Your personal business is not my business.

Unlike both of my main opponents, I would never allow my Attorney General to sue to roll back a woman’s right to choose. I’d fire them if they did. I’m the only candidate who can say that.

I want this and the next generation to have the opportunities my wife Kelly and I have had.

Kelly treats hospital patients with sometimes severe wounds. She also treats more COVID patients than she would if we had leadership willing to work harder to steer Alaskans towards the things that prevent the spread of an out-of-control COVID virus.

I began my career in Fairbanks working for Supreme Court Justice Jay Rabinowitz, and then in Anchorage as an Assistant Attorney General on the civil prosecution of Exxon after the catastrophic 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. As a legislator until 2018 I was proud to represent all Alaskans, urban and rural, not just those in one community.

I’m a Democrat who believes in representing everyone, regardless of party. I believe national parties don’t understand Alaska. But foremost, I’m an Alaskan who wants a brighter future for everyone in this state.

Les Gara is a former assistant attorney general and legislator and has lived in Alaska with his wife, Kelly, since 1988.

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