Friday, June 15, 2012

Mat-Su Democrats U.S. House Primary Candidate Forum Friday Evening

Seated from left to right:  Debra Chesnut, Rep. Sharon Cissna, Doug Urquidi, Matt Moore, with Mat-Su Democrats chair Gwen Heynen at right
The Mat-Su Democrats, perhaps Alaska's most progressive local chapter, held the first U.S. House candidate forum of the 2008 election cycle this evening.  I was the moderator.

Four out of the five candidates from our party were able to be there.  Frank Vondersaar, from Homer, had a previous engagement.  Alaska state Rep. Sharon Cissna (Anchorage), Debra Chesnut (Fairbanks), Matt Moore (Anchorage) and Doug Urquidi (Eagle River) were all there.  The format was a three-minute introductory statement, a round of ten questions to each candiate, posed by me (submitted previously by members of the Mat-Su Democrats), with one-minute responses, four questions to all the candidates from the audience, and 90-second conclusions.

There were about 70 people attending.

What struck me the most were three things:
1.  How much humor all had to offer, and how much the four opponents laughed at each others' jabs at Young, GOP policies or other laughable aspects of the current political scene.  They genuinely like each other. 

2.  How many observed, one way or another, how, in respect to the ongoing wars and growth of the national security state, the Democratic Party establishment has come to support policies now implemented by the Obama administration and the Democratic Party-controlled Senate, that Democrats abhorred when Bush was chief executive.

3.  How Democrats in power don't seem to understand how to describe responsible, sustainable development policies in terms that will strongly resonate with union members and voters in the middle.
The ten questions I posed were:
1.  What is your position on the Knik Arm Bridge?

2.  If built, should it include rail as well as roadway?

3.  Do you support the proposed Watana hydroelectric dam on the upper Susitna River?

4.  What are your thoughts on the proposed Pebble Mine?

5.  Do you support the Wishbone Hill open pit coal mine Usibelli plans on opening in Sutton?  What about the Alaska

6.  Mental Health Trust coal leases behind Chickaloon?

7.  What is your strategy for forging positive relationships among congresspersons in Washington DC?

8.  How will you address Don Young's inevitable argument of his seniority?

9.  Name one thing you would do - beyond what is now being  done - to help veterans.

10.  Has the surveillance state gone too far?
All the candidates had creative ideas about ways to help veterans, so I allowed them more time to expand upon that.

This is an interesting group of engaged, committed Alaskans who have few ties to old school Alaska Democratic Party politics.  If you get a chance to go to one of the upcoming forums, you should.

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