Gubernatorial candidates address PFD, Roe v. Wade, more at debate

Alaska's gubernatorial candidates take the stage at a debate on Oct. 19, 2022.
Alaska's gubernatorial candidates take the stage at a debate on Oct. 19, 2022.(Jeremy Kashatok)
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 6:59 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska’s News Source, Alaska Public Media, and KTOO hosted a debate featuring all four gubernatorial candidates — Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Republican Charlie Pierce, Democrat Les Gara and nonpartisan former Gov. Bill Walker.

The debate was moderated by Alaska’s News Source Managing Editor and Anchor Mike Ross as well as Alaska Public Media News Director Lori Townsend.

Debate for the State

Tonight's debate will feature all four candidates for governor and is hosted by Alaska's News Source, Alaska Public Media, and KTOO. Tune in next week for the U.S. House candidates debate on Wednesday, Oct. 26 and the U.S. Senate debate on Oct. 27. Both will be held at 7 p.m.

Posted by Alaska's News Source on Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Tune in next week as the U.S. House candidates will debate at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Senate candidates will follow at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Editor’s note: The following was written in a live-blog format as the debate was happening. The live blog is now over.

Permanent Fund Dividend

The first question asked of candidates was concerning the Permanent Fund dividend.

Charlie Pierce: “I think you know the PFD is an Alaskan right. I think there’s a statutory formula that’s been ignored for the last six years.”

Les Gara: “I believe in a strong permanent fund dividend and the problem is this governor has turned Alaskans against each other. I don’t think he actually believes in the dividend, I do.”

Mike Dunleavy: “The $3,200 plus dividend that was issued to Alaskans in some of the worst economic times. I worked hard for that and other legislators worked really hard on that.”

Bill Walker: “It’s really critical that it is something you can depend upon. My concern is with high dividends we have been put in the express lane for higher taxes in Alaska, and that’s what I don’t want.”

Roe v Wade

Charlie Pierce: “I would think in this country we should wrap our arms around adoptions, provide more dfedral support to promote adoptions in our state. If it is in the constitution, I’ll respect that.”

Les Gara: “I am pro choice and I am proud of that … Government telling somebody what they can do with their body, that’s government overreach. The stakes in this election are very high if you believe in the right to choose.”

Mike Dunleavy: “I’m a father of three daughters. I take this issue very seriously. I think what you’re hearing from some of the candidates is just a lot of fear-mongering”

Bill Walker: “I have said publicly and in writing that I will veto any legislation that comes between any woman and their doctor. There’s more we can do. We can certainly file legislation for contraception prescriptions to go up to a year.”

Violence against women in rural communities

Charlie Pierce: “I too support police officers in the communities in rural Alaska. I think we need more troopers on a regular basis in communities. I think there needs to be more mental support, health care support for folks that are suffering from addiction. I think it’s a contributor to many of these cases and again I support what Mr. Dunleavy, the governor, has said.”

Les Gara: “That’s a danger to women it’s a danger to everybody to have over 50 communities without a single police officer. If you want to talk about defunding the police, Gov. Dunleavy has defunded the police.”

Mike Dunleavy: “I have three Inupiaq daughters and this issue is very important to me. We have changed many of the laws and we will continue to do so, to make it harder to prey on the most vulnerable.”

Bill Walker: You know, we need to have compacting with the tribes. That has worked with healthcare, we have got to compact with the tribes to help them and to help us put officers into the villages.

Anchorage Youth Vote question about base student allocation increase, school funding

Charlie Pierce: “I do not support raising the allocation. I think it’s ultimately more of a school board issue.”

Les Gara: “I’m the only candidate in this race who has proposed keeping education funding up with inflation.”

Bill Walker: “Flat funding education since 2017 has resulted in what we see right now. It’s unprecedented what we’re seeing in Alaska right now with education.”

Mike Dunleavy: “We’re one of the most diverse states. I stay in Alaska, and say it’s because of the people. There will be no discrimination under my administration, everyone has the right to pursue the American dream.”

Video question from Kotzebue: how to lower transportation costs in rural Alaska

Charlie Pierce: “In rural Alaska, costs are the highest we’ve seen in decades. I’ve always looked at Alaska like a division problem — the cost of services divided by the number of folks you’re trying to deliver service to. I would look at purchasing power, at accumulating purchases to lower costs to Alaskans.”

Les Gara: “It’s time we start treating rural Alaskans equally again. These are the first Alaskans and we do not treat them equally. We need to decrease them, we need to end 1.2 billion dollars in unjustified oil company subsidies.”

Bill Walker: “We absolutely have got to break down the cost of energy in Alaska in general. When we worked on the oil pipeline we thought finally here’s some cheap energy, and that didn’t happen.”

Mike Dunleavy: “We funded PCE every year we increased the funding with the legislature this past year for PCE. We are doing everything we can and we are on renewables. I lived in rural Alaska for 20 years. I know what rural Alaska is like. Some of these guys have never been there.”

Do you support Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system?

Les Gara: “Yes, I didn’t vote for it but I respect that Alaskans did.”

Bill Walker: “I do, yes.”

Gov. Dunleavy: “The people put this forward and we’ll respect that, but no.”

Charlie Pierce: “No, I don’t support it.”

Will you consider new taxes?

Bill Walker: “I certainly hope not. I certainly hope we don’t do that, I think there’s other things we can do before that. I hope we don’t have to do that.”

Mike Dunleavy: “In the last new administration there was at least nine to 11 new taxes that were proposed.”

Charlie Pierce: “No. I think taxation is regressive. I’d look for cuts, always look for cuts first.”

Les Gara: “How are any of you ever going to fix the schools that children don’t have any opportunity in right now. I guess you would just rather sacrifice children than do the right thing.”

Closing statements

Charlie Pierce: “I’m the only candidate in this race with a successful career in the public sector, and I remind Alaskans that I kept the Kenai Peninsula open for business (during the COVID-19 pandemic). I will select the three million acres of federal land that is still owed to our state, and I will manage the fish stock scientifically. We need to see a new day in Alaska, and I encourage you to vote on Nov. 8.”

Mike Dunleavy: “Alaska is better off today than it was four years ago. I’ve just listed a whole host of reasons why. This debate shows that they haven’t learned from the past. They want to go back to raising taxes. They don’t want to hear from the people of Alaska, they don’t want them voting on the constitutional convention ... It’s been an honor to be your governor. I look forward to the next four years and working together we can build Alaska.”

Bill Walker: “Some enter politics for purpose, some for power. We’re running to rebuild Alaska. It needs rebuilding.”

“I will rebuild Alaska. I will aggressively go after the public funds available in the bipartisan infrastructure bill ... It’s time that we are aggressive about getting low-cost energy to every home and business in Alaska.”

Les Gara: “I want to make sure other people have a fair chance to succeed in this world, that’s why I’m running. We can do a lot better we need to create opportunity for people we need to create jobs for people again and you can’t create jobs for people again if you don’t educate them.”