State public safety union endorses Dunleavy, Anchorage officers endorse Begich

Published: Oct. 8, 2018 at 2:06 PM AKDT
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Alaska’s Public Safety Employees Association announced Monday afternoon that it is endorsing Republican candidate Mike Dunleavy in the state’s race for Governor. This announcement comes just over a month after Anchorage’s police union endorsed Democrat Mark Begich.

The union represents State Troopers, State Fish and Wildlife Protection Troopers, Airport police and fire officers in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Court Service officers, deputy fire marshals, and local police employees and officers in Juneau, Unalaska, Sitka, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Soldotna, and Dillingham. In an afternoon press conference Monday, union officers said Dunleavy will put public safety first for Alaska, as residents are reeling from a skyrocketing crime rate over the past few years.

“Mike Dunleavy has spent many years living in rural Alaska – he understands the unique challenges,” said Doug Massie, president of the PSEA’s Division of Public Safety chapter. He emphasized that public safety should be the number 1 priority for whichever candidate gets elected governor.

“Mike Dunleavy has a strong track record, he supports public safety professionals and their families,” Massie said.

Dunleavy spoke at the press event, and focused on resources.

“We’re going to make sure they have the resources, they have the personnel, we have the laws and regulations for what’s needed to get Alaska on track,” Dunleavy said.

When pressed for specific ideas he had discussed with PSEA officials, Dunleavy said there were a lot of ideas, but first, recruitment and retention were at the top of the list, to keep current troopers and officers in the force.

In 2014, the PSEA's political action committee endorsed Gov. Bill Walker.

Last month, the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association endorsed Democrat Mark Begich for governor. Begich, a former Anchorage mayor, plans to invest in local police, address the opioid epidemic, substance abuse and mental health issues, fully staff the departments of public safety and corrections, and enhance public safety operations in rural Alaska, APDEA said in a release at the time.

“We have seen him tackle the hard issues and make a meaningful impact,” APDEA Vice President Sgt. Jeremy Conkling said in a release announcing the endorsement.

When Begich was Anchorage’s mayor, the union says, he added more than 80 police officers and put two prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office to tackle drug dealers, gangs and violent criminals.

The Anchorage police union said it was only the second time it has made an endorsement for governor, which in 2014 was also current Gov. Bill Walker.