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For the future of Alaska, reelect Bill Walker as governor

I love our great state and am invested in the future and success of Alaska. It is very alarming seeing what has been happening to Alaska over the past decade. There has been an exodus of working age Alaskans to the Lower 48, and there are few opportunities for economic growth.

Despite Gov. Dunleavy’s assertion that Alaska is open for business, it is clearly not. The barriers of entry are just too high for businesses to succeed. And Dunleavy has done little to encourage economic development, other than whine about the slow decline of our oil industry. That’s why I am formally endorsing Bill Walker to be Alaska’s next governor. Alaska needs jobs to build our economy. Bill Walker is the right leader at the right time. He has experience, passion and vision. Alaska’s leaders lack leadership at this critical time. Bill is not looking for a political career, he’s looking to fix problems.

I grew up in the shadow of Gov. Jay Hammond, who was like an uncle to me throughout my teenage years. I went on many hunting and fishing trips with my dad and Jay and listened to them craft the future of Alaska, including the Permanent Fund, the dividend, the rural school program and many other important programs in our state. And I used to shoot pool at the governor’s mansion with Jay and Dad and remember Jay teaching me about Alaska politics and his recipe for building a strong and successful Alaska. I am endorsing Bill Walker for governor because he, like Jay, understands that recipe and what we need to do to move forward. On a side note, that table ended up in Clem Tillion’s home in Halibut Cove.

Bill and his running mate, Heidi Drygas, will seek Alaska solutions and won’t be bound by positions based on partisan national politics. As Alaska’s former governor he supported Medicaid expansion, bringing access to health care for over 60,000 Alaskans who couldn’t afford private health insurance, and in so doing, brought over $1 billion a year of federal matching funds into our economy.

Dunleavy on the other hand has dismantled critical infrastructure — our ferries and our university. Dunleavy has utterly failed to put a viable fiscal solution on the table which is necessary to attract future investment in the state. It pains me to see Dunleavy devastate critical Alaska programs and infrastructure, and even put the corpus of the permanent fund at risk. He also has failed to require the oil companies to pay their fair share. I am a strong supporter of a fully funded dividend, but Alaska needs a broad-based revenue source beyond our declining oil industry if it is going to be able to support one. Dunleavy has been fiscally irresponsible. That is not conservative, it is just self-serving politically. Furthermore, Dunleavy is pushing for a constitutional convention that would threaten many of our liberties and freedoms that Attorney General John Havelock and many others worked so hard to enshrine into our constitution.

Bill and Heidi are authentic Alaska patriots who care deeply about the state and its people and want to see us prosper now and into the future. Walker has taken criticism for some tough decisions he made while governor, but he was confronted with a nearly impossible $4 billion budget deficit. Through austerity measures he managed to pull Alaska back to fiscal neutrality, which our constitution requires.

Being brave and making difficult but necessary decisions are what we should expect from true leaders. Walker and Drygas can build the coalition we need to solve Alaska’s fiscal crisis and lead our state into the future, and with our new ranked choice voting system they have the best chance to unseat Mike Dunleavy. I encourage you to vote for and to support Gov. Bill Walker for a second term.

Al Gross was an Independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020. His father, Av Gross, was Gov. Jay Hammond’s attorney general.

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