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Making a better future for Alaska

I want a brighter future, not a state people have been leaving for a record four years in a row. We can do better than the loss of thousands of good-paying jobs, closed small businesses and less opportunity to succeed. Fairbanks has been hit especially hard.

I’m running for governor because we deserve a better Alaska.

As someone who’s lived in and knows Fairbanks, and has fought to defend the university from cuts as a legislator, I know it’s smarter to grow a strong university so we have a skilled Alaska workforce. Gov. Dunleavy has forced thousands of students and faculty to leave Alaska, as a legislator since 2013 and now as governor.

Like many of you, I grew up with hurdles in my way. My father was killed by a robber who broke into his office when I was six6 Twelve years in foster care taught me that everyone deserves a fair chance in life.

That means an economy with good paying jobs and good wages. It means good schools, real opportunity, lower power costs which we can achieve with natural gas and renewable energy, and treating seniors with dignity. These are things I’ve always fought for.

We should grow our economies. Gov. Dunleavy has been a wrecking ball to them.

He’s violated almost every campaign promise he made. He campaigned on education, then tried to cut a staggering quarter-billion dollars from our public schools. Eliminating 2,500 teachers and educators, and leaving students behind, isn’t a plan. It’s neglect.

As a legislator Gov. Dunleavy voted for constant, crushing University cuts I and others had to battle. We usually, but not always, had the votes to reverse what he did.

Once he was elected, knowing the University had lost thousands of students already, he launched a new attack and tried to eliminate 1/3 of its remaining state support.

We can do better.

We can bring back 6,000 good-paying jobs by supporting the construction budget we had before this budget crisis. Alaska has $2 billion of neglected, shovel-ready projects on our state and University deferred maintenance lists. The governor has let buildings and infrastructure decay. He’s kept thousands of people out of work for three years.

He’s left this energy state energy poor. We can save money with needed renewable, natural gas and other cost-saving energy projects.

I enjoy fishing like many of you. Commercial, subsistence and sportfishing are bedrocks for Alaska’s economy.

I support Alaska’s responsible oil development and mining jobs, including those at Fort Knox. But the toxic Pebble Mine threatens the greatest wild salmon runs in the world. Unlike Gov. Dunleavy, who’s stood with the foreign Pebble Mine owners, I’ll stand with you to prevent that catastrophe.

Gov. Dunleavy has pitted community against community, and Alaskan against Alaskan, to fight over crumbs. I’ll represent the whole state and always have.

Then there’s the main job he promised to do, and never did. He’s ducked Alaska’s seven-year budget deficit, and spent away $16 billion in savings as a legislator, and now as governor.

What’s he done to close the budget deficit? In April he proposed a $3 billion raid on the Permanent Fund, the biggest raid in Permanent Fund history. He tried to promise it would be a “one-time” raid. Most legislators across party lines rightly said no.

You never received his promised “Statutory PFD” because he never believed in it, and admits he doesn’t now. Promising the easy spending part, but not a way to pay for it is a false promise.

The “statutory PFD” he promised would be $3,860 this year. Now he says he wants a 40% smaller “non-statutory” PFD. We need a real PFD you can bank on with revenue to pay for it, not endless fights and fake promises.

We need a real plan to solve the deficit. That requires ending unaffordable oil company subsidies Gov. Dunleavy voted for in 2013, and that I voted against. His “oil tax credits” are corporate welfare we can’t afford.

We should partner with our oil industry, but not be junior partners.

Alaska can’t afford four more years of this. I’ll work for you so we can build a brighter future, together. Please visit www.lesgara.com for more information.

Les Gara is a candidate for governor, a former Alaska state Legislator and assistant attorney general. He’s lived in Fairbanks (1988-89), and then Anchorage with his wife Kelly since 1988.

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