Hello Seniors, “Seniors in waiting” and Veterans,
Following is the response from Lt. Governor candidates to the Senior Citizen Survey. It is terrific that the , Edie Grunwald, Sharon Jackson and Lynn Gattis.
ALL support the Senior Citizens of Alaska. Please read their replies, form a few questions of your own and ask them on the campaign trail.
They express their opinions in different ways, but one thing is sure: With a one of these folks in the Lt. Governor seat, Seniors will have a voice.
Dear Candidate for Lt. Governor of Alaska,
I have prepared brief series of questions for Lt. Gubernatorial candidates regarding their views and support of Senior citizens. This particular questionnaire also highlights Senior citizens of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Your answers and comments will be published without edit. At the end of the article I will include my Senior Citizen perspective. If space does not permit, the article will be released in two parts.
Senior citizens are a significant portion of the Alaska population. When motivated we can and do vote. This election is important to every Alaska Senior and I assure we will vote.
- The Alaska Commission on Aging (ACoA) has an 11-member sitting commission with 6 members from the Anchorage bowl area and ZERO from the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB). Governor Walker has declined to appoint a commissioner from the KPB. The KPB has over 14,000 Seniors representing 24% of the borough population. Will you, if elected Lt. Governor commit to encouraging and supporting the Governor to make the next appointment from the KPB the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Yes or No? If No, Why?
Edie Grunwald: YES
Sharon Jackson: Absolutely
Lynn Gattis: Yes, because ALL parts of the state should be represented. I had a bill that would have forced the same for our University of Alaska-Board of Regents. It passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate. Governor Walker vetoed it. He did NOT tell me why. All parts of this state should be represented, we have different needs in different areas.
- Under Governor Walker, the commission on aging department budget was cut by 40%, reducing staff to only 3 people. This cut of approximately $200,000 represents a fractional amount compared to the current Governors propensity to contract millions of dollars to consulting services. Even the KPB District 31 House representative, Paul Seaton took the step of reducing the ACoA budget while asking $500,000 for a ridiculous Vitamin D study, allocated to political friends.
Will you, if elected as the next Lt. Governor, commit to work with the Governor establish a position of Senior Citizen Ombudsman (or similar) to be the Governors direct contact with the Senior Community and the various agencies responsible for their well-being? If appropriate would you ask the Governor to include such a position under the office of Lt. Governor? Keeping in mind that a Senior in that position will have a significantly lower cost and would add a presence for Seniors while still maintaining the reduced ACoA budget.
Yes or No and if No, Why?
Edie Grunwald: We need to address adequately funding the commission on aging. Senior citizen is a growing sector of Alaska’s demographics. It’s wonderful and we need to keep it this way! It only makes sense to have the demographics of our communities represented and ensure our seniors are a priority. I love the idea of a Senior Citizen Ombudsman! And it would be an honor for the Lt Governor to play a role with partnering with Ombudsman to advocate and address issues on behalf of our seniors.
Sharon Jackson: Yes, I will ask to have this position under the Lt Governor so that I can be sure the voices of our senior community are represented. I believe our seniors are the cornerstone of our existence and Statehood.
Lynn Gattis: Yes, I have a front row seat into many of the pitfalls (at least in the Mat-Su) that the elderly face-my aging mother and step-father. We need folks that understand and recognize the needs.
- Over the past several years politicians have attempted to eliminate the state mandated Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption. The elimination of this exemption could have a devasting effect on the Senior population and encourage the outflow of Seniors from our state causing economic harm to the entire state.
Will you commit, as Lt. Governor to advocate against any legislative attempt to eliminate the Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption Mandate.
Yes or No? If No, Why.
Edie Grunwald: Yes
Sharon Jackson: Yes, I will with no hesitation.
Lynn Gattis: Yes, I will, we know, keeping our seniors in their homes is simply less expensive and let’s face it, we are all more comfortable in our own beds. That being said, as our population ages, we must look at other options that are also affordable and we CANNOT just pull the rug out from folks who depend on safety nets.
- Seniors citizens on fixed income are one of the most affected groups of the PFD reduction. Many Seniors counted on the PFD check for heating, food, that once in a year vacation and quality time with relatives. There have been all kinds of excuses for reducing the PFD amount. Mostly bogus, but all political in nature. Those amounts still sit in the state treasury. The loss of life quality to Seniors and the economic devastation to the state by loss of that annual economic boost is contrary to sound fiscal policy.
Will you, if elected Lt. Governor, endorse and advocate restoration of the PFD to full value and return to residents the amounts withheld?
Yes or No? If No, Why?
Edie Grunwald: Yes – Already a priority for Edie Grunwald, Lt Gov candidate.
Sharon Jackson: Yes. I believe every cent taken should be returned.
Lynn Gattis: Yes, as you may remember, when I was on house finance, I refused to let the PFD restructure bill out of committee. Since it didn’t leave the committee, it certainly couldn’t pass. The Governor then took ½ of the PFD that year. We would not even have this conversation if that did not happen.
- Many Seniors are Veterans and many Veterans are Seniors. How will your administration support and keep the public aware of both the needs and contributions made by these groups to the State of Alaska? It is important that we do not forget. From Attu to Iraq, Alaska Veterans and Senior Veterans have served our country and state.
Edie Grunwald: Senior citizens have so much to offer and we need to ensure our senior veterans are recognized and maintain a quality of life that is desirable to the individual. The demographics are changing in Alaska to include a growing population of senior citizens and veterans. Many senior veterans are not aware that they may be eligible for benefits to help pay for long-term care, monetary assistance and other programs because they do not know these benefits exist. Additional senior citizen housing options and levels of care are needed, and the private sector has an opportunity to start meeting these needs on the market.
I welcome and encourage ideas toward success options. I plan to be actively engaged.
I’m running because SB 91 must be repealed, our criminal justice system MUST be reformed, and offenders held accountable. Reducing crime will allow our state actually SHRINK the huge government we have, reducing our budget without taxing Alaskans or ever needing to touch the PFD which can remain in the historical split which has worked since it’s inception.
Work to get Medicaid under control with limits, transparency, options, incentives, and back to its original intent for elderly and disabled.
Sharon Jackson: I am a veteran and my husband is a Vietnam Veteran and a senior. I know without a doubt we would not be where we are today without the work and hardships of our seniors and they should and will always be honored and provided for. That is the least we can do!
Lynn Gattis: Certainly keeping a good relationship[ with our Federal delegation is important. Remembering our own roots will be part of that (Thank goodness for my dad and brothers as veterans) Really going to bat for them now is vital.
Although these are not the only concerns of Alaska and Kenai Peninsula Borough Seniors, they do represent critical areas. I look forward to your response so the we may better inform the Senior population of your positions
Please call or email with any questions
Thank you in advance for your consideration and response.
Peter T. Zuyus
Senior Citizen Advocate
Due to a cyberspace mis-direct, Candidate Mead Treadwell’s replies took a “digital detour”. After contacting Mead he immediately forwarded his responses.
This update replaces the previous survey
The questionnaire below was sent to Republican primary candidates to get their views on Senior Citizen issues. There is also a focus on the Kenai Peninsula which has been ignored by some politicians.
This update features replies from both Mike Dunleavy and Mead Treadwell.
The good news is that both candidates support the Senior Citizens of our great State. Read their answers and take the opportunity to ask them questions on the campaign trail. Remember, August 21 is Primary voting day and your vote counts.
Many thanks to both Mead Treadwell and Mike Dunleavy for their participation.
Senior Citizen Advocate
So here goes:
Candidate Mike Dunleavy, Republican for Governor
Candidate Mead Treadwell, Republican for Governor
1. The Alaska Commission on Aging (ACoA) has an 11-member sitting commission with 6 members from the Anchorage bowl area and ZERO from the Kenai Peninsula Borough (KPB). Governor Walker has declined to appoint a commissioner from the KPB. The KPB has over 14,000 Seniors representing 24% of the borough population. Will you, if elected Governor commit to making the next commission appointment from the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Yes or No? If No, Why?
Treadwell: I am sorry Gov. Walker has declined to appoint a representative from the Kenai Peninsula. I will Please nominate one or two potential members when I’m elected, and –I say this for all underrepresented areas of the state – don’t ever leave your government alone! All Alaskans deserve to be heard by the commission, and that input is the only way good policy can be created.
2. Under Governor Walker, the commission on aging department budget was cut by 40%, reducing staff to only 3 people. This cut of approximately $200,000 represents a fractional amount compared to the current Governors propensity to contract millions of dollars to consulting services.
Will you, if elected as the next Governor, commit to establish a position of Senior Citizen Ombudsman (or similar) to be the Governors direct contact with the Senior Community and the various agencies responsible for their well-being? Keeping in mind that a Senior in that position will have a significantly lower cost and would add a presence for Seniors while still maintaining the reduced ACoA budget.
Yes or No and if No, Why?
Treadwell: There will be a person on my staff designated as point man or woman on senior issues. That person will work closely with our health, administration, veterans, and housing programs to coordinate state activities that are addressing senior problems. I am not committing to specific staff positions because we have a large budget deficit. I want our government to focus on outputs, rather than just argue about inputs to the budget. We have real problems to solve, and the size of the bureaucracy should never serve as a measure for our success in solving problems.
3. Over the past several years politicians have attempted to eliminate the state Mandated Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption. The elimination of this exemption could have a devasting effect on the Senior population and encourage the outflow of Seniors from our state causing economic harm to the entire state.
Will you commit, as Governor to veto any legislative attempt to eliminate the Senior Citizen Property Tax exemption mandate.
Yes or No? If No, Why.
Dunleavy: Yes. I will veto any attempt to tax.
Treadwell: Yes. This is a state decision which affects local budgets, and I will always stand up for it –it is an important incentive to keep seniors here in Alaska and in their own homes where most seniors tell me they’d rather be. We have a budget deficit in this state, and as Governor I am committed to doing what we can to help our communities continue to help seniors, too. A stealth tax increase on seniors does not make sense. I oppose new taxes.
4. Seniors citizens on fixed income are one of the most affected groups of the PFD reduction. Many Seniors counted on the PFD check for heating, food, that once in a year vacation and quality time with relatives. There have been all kinds of excuses for reducing the PFD amount. Mostly bogus, but all political in nature. Those amounts still sit in the state treasury. The loss of life quality to Seniors and the economic devastation to the state by loss of that annual economic boost is contrary to sound fiscal policy.
Will you, if elected Governor, restore the PFD to full value and return to residents the amounts withheld?
Yes or No? If No, Why?
Dunleavy: Yes. No candidate has worked harder to keep the full dividend has it has been for nearly four decades. I have and will continue to fight to maintain the historic calculation of the PFD and can promise I will not support any changes to the PFD without a vote of the people.
Treadwell: PFD pirates must be stopped. My opponent made promises to protect the PFD, but then voted against a session to override Bill Walker’s veto of the PFD amount. He quit the Senate and could not vote on the Permanent Fund Protection Bill which passed this year.
As governor, I will support the traditional formula which allocates half of Permanent Fund earnings, averaged over five years, to the PFD. The “Percent of Market Value” approach to calculating earnings available should allow for a growing dividend and allow for avoiding taxes. This is not a governor’ s decision alone – the legislature must appropriate the funds, and there is no way, presently, to “veto” a cut. I will push for the legal formula so the Legislature does not play politics with the dividend moving forward.
5. Many Seniors are Veterans and many Veterans are Seniors. How will your administration support and keep the public aware of both the needs and contributions made by these groups to the State of Alaska? It is important that we do not forget. From Attu to Iraq, Alaska Veterans and Senior Veterans have served our country and state.
Dunleavy: I have the utmost respect for seniors and our veterans who served to protect our great nation. These two groups of very important Alaskans will not be forgotten by my administration. I will consult with organizations that represent our seniors and veterans on a regular basis when forming policy and making decisions. They will have a place at the table.
Treadwell: As Lt. Governor, I worked to include Seniors and Veterans in Veterans Day, Memorial Day, changes of command, retirement ceremonies, deployment and returning home ceremonies and honor flights. I helped name a mountain near Cordova after Marines who fought at the Chosun Reservoir. I was there to share the tears with families who lost loved ones defending our country, and I will be there again for you. For me, this is personal. Dad served in the National Guard. Mentors who helped raise me were veterans of the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and I had peers serve in Vietnam, Kosovo and the Middle East. I fought to help Veterans get health care where they live, rather than having to travel great distances to visit VA facilities. I will support Veterans Day events that emphasize the current contributions senior veterans make to society, and make sure that the VA is adequately serving our veterans by insisting that the Traveling Board of Appeals comes to Alaska.
Primary day, August 21 is just a few weeks away, so its time to rev up that Senior Citizen commentary. Over the next several weeks we will highlight candidates for state office and how they plan on working for Seniors.
Dear Fellow Republican,
My name is Peter Zuyus and I am sending you this email as a member of Alaska Republican District 31.
You may know me from my advocacy on behalf of Senior citizens of the State and the KPB. Two mutual friends Nona Safra, Chair of District 31 and Jon Faulkner, Vice-Chair ARP, have encouraged me to become involved with our District.
In our ongoing effort to “UNSEAT SEATON”, we are running a series of digital ads (see attached) highlighting that Paul Seaton is leading the charge to steal your dividend.
PLEASE! WE NEED TO RAISE FUNDS for this month-long ad run. If each person on this list donates $10, we will do it! All funds raised will go 100% to this campaign.
Mail check to: ARP-D31 C/O Nona Safra, PO Box 1322, Anchor Point, Ak , 99556
On Line DONATION Simply click: https://secure.anedot.com/ alaska-gop/d31
Be sure to include district31ALERT@yahoo. com on your list of accepted emails, as we want you to receive important communications in the future.
Thank you very much!
Good bye Mr. Seaton
Alaska District 31 Republicans have increased the pressure on Paul Seaton to leave the Republican party. A strong letter to Lower Peninsula Republicans was sent to voters and released to the media, joining the Alaskan Republican Party in its demand that Paul Seaton change his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.
Titled “Open Letter to the Lower Peninsula Community” . The letter was sent by Nona Safra and the District 31 Board and endorsed by Party Vice Chair, Jon Faulkner
Let’s take a peek into that letter.
The good news for District 31 is that they took the approach to highlight the Seaton record, based on facts versus political rhetoric or personal animous. There are few in their district or the state that deny Paul Seaton has turned his loyalty to the Democratic party. The letter highlights where Seaton abandoned the Republican Party and joined with Democrats in Juneau. In the area of legislation, he voted the Democratic line.
This letter from District 31 drops the gauntlet, Mr. Seaton you are not one of us.
In general, the letter explains Seatons votes or proposals to increase senior citizen taxes , his favor of seizing the PFD, his plan to create a State income tax and his support for a State sales tax. Amongst other legislative positions.
How Seaton can justify remaining a Republican is a mystery. If the Republican party has anything to say about it: mystery solved he is not a Republican.
The Alaskan Republican Party insists that it be represented by Republicans, it is not a novel idea.
Perhaps Paul Seaton can lift his head from feeding at the Democratic $$ trough long enough to listen , change parties and go back to the trough. He receives less than 8% of his contributions from Republicans, most his support is from Democrats and Democrat PACs.
For District 31: Paul Seaton, Republicans do not want you.
For Paul Seaton: Say good bye and “move on” (your true party slogan)
For Democratic Party: Paul Seaton has joined you in the house, will you accept him as a party member?
For Republican Party: Paul Seaton = delete.
Stay tuned folks, it will be interesting and exciting. There is nothing like a good political contest on the Southern Peninsula.
Open Letter to the Lower Peninsula Community
To our fellow Citizens and Friends:
District 31 Republicans respect open dialogue and the sharing of opposing views in a constructive format. We believe in holding our elected representatives accountable for what they do and how they represent the people.
That’s why the Alaska Republican Party has taken the unprecedented step of sending the attached letter to Representative Paul Seaton denying him access to our primary ballot as a Republican in this year’s Legislative election. We feel it is critical to communicate our concerns to the community directly so people understand why this step has been taken and explain how this action will improve our democratic process.
We believe that presenting our position in a clearly articulated open forum removes any cloud of secrecy or “hidden motives” that might cause resentment. In an effort to enlighten the community on the specific issues and legislation that demonstrate how Paul Seaton has turned his back on area Republicans, we have included his positions and voting record on Page three.
The Alaskan Republican Party and local District 31 have the legal authority—backed by precedent—to prevent Seaton from running as a Republican. Political parties are associations of like-minded individuals with broad constitutional protections to define their terms of association. While ARP continues to welcome all people of every race and cultural background who share our values, we are unwilling to let the government force us to accept our rivals’ abuse of our name and our Republican Party label in the upcoming primary election. As much as Paul Seaton may insist that he is not our adversary, his actions prove otherwise. Republican leadership and caucuses are united in their position: Paul Seaton cannot appear on the ballot as a Republican.
The views expressed here are not those of every Republican, but they do speak for the majority and are the result of leadership votes at every level. Paul Seaton’s actions diverge completely from Republican priorities. His voting record, summarized on the following pages, constitutes such a clear break from his professed party affiliation and its objectives, that we regard him as destructive to our party.
Finally, we acknowledge that this is a big step and it has not been taken lightly. It is a necessary step to preserve our integrity and purpose as a party. This is a grass-roots effort, not orchestrated by outside activists, party bosses or “big oil”, as some will suggest. Republicans in District 31 are speaking up. We are the voice behind this initiative and for too long our voices have been silenced by a person pretending to support Republican priorities.
Representative Seaton is not being denied his right to free speech or free association. He switched his allegiance and association voluntarily and decided to associate with the Democratic party. The Democratic party is where his true allegiance resides and where his opinions are welcomed and rewarded. Paul Seaton has “made his nest”.
This step by ARP has already strengthened democracy and the election process by encouraging other Republican candidates to step forward to seek the endorsement of our party, potentially resulting in several choices to represent our party in the General election. This is precisely what primaries are intended to do. Yet, for too long Mr. Seaton has used our party label to advance his own personal interests, not those of our party.
Mr. Seaton is welcome to run for office as a Democrat. If he is honest and true to his principles, he should do exactly that. In any event, Seaton has no right to complain about “why he cannot be what he is not, a Republican”
District 31 Republican Officers
Nona Safra, Chair
Michael Fell, Vice Chair
Julie Wasser, Secretary
Kathy Wallace, Assistant Secretary
Eileen Becker, Treasurer
Seaton, as Finance Co-Chair, plays “hide and seek” with the budget and government spending. His recent explanation of a $200 million “oops” in a “supplemental appropriation” is an example of dodging accountability.
Seaton has presided over the most contentious, partisan, “do-nothing” session in our history. His defection to the Democrats placed his individual interests (desire for power and status) ahead of the people and led directly to our current impasse on necessary budget reductions.
Seaton has presided over two budgets that have taken half your dividend and cut ZERO from the combined operating budget—at a time when we clearly need reductions in spending
Alaska’s government spending is the highest per-capita in the nation, by a huge margin, and yet Seaton believes we have nowhere left to cut.
Seaton supports the Governor’s fuel tax, his payroll tax, and removal of property tax exemptions for seniors, all of which drain capital from our private sector.
Seaton supports reneging on promised tax credits–admittedly generous, but which were promised.
Seaton favors taking more of your dividend through creative “re-structuring” and POMV—lower payouts that do nothing to protect the Permanent Fund.
Seaton led the effort to expand Medicaid, with hidden costs and no controls—a decision that is breaking the back of working Alaskans.
Seaton consistently disregards the needs and health of the private sector.
Seaton rates among the lowest in the Legislature every year in terms of “Supportive of Alaska Business”. Seaton voted for looser sentencing and drug laws, leading to our present crime wave and drug epidemic.
Seaton’s District has the second highest unemployment rate in the State. After a decade in the Legislature, nothing has changed. His record in support of jobs and economic opportunity reflects ZERO concern for private sector.
For example: he supports HB142 that RAISES unemployment insurance on businesses to fund more unemployment benefits that his policies (or lack thereof) has created!
Seaton consistently fails to support reforms to existing wage and hour laws that kill employment and entrepreneurship in Alaska.
Seaton rejects reasonable repairs to our worker’s compensation system.
Every year, Seaton leads the charge to increase oil taxes, already the highest in the free-market world. He thinks higher taxes creates more revenue.
Seaton has introduced bills to increase mining tax and gravel extraction tax. His sponsorship of bills on mixing zones were so burdensome that our own shore-based treatment plants and ferry system would not comply.
Seaton refused to allow any Republican amendments last session that sought even minor reductions to the budget onto the floor for a vote. His representations that the total operating budget was cut in 2017 (i.e. without capital spending and reductions to dividend) is unsupported by facts.
Seaton, for over a decade, has continuously voted against building strong families, against parental rights, against protections for private property rights, and for increased regulation and Federal Government oversight (Prop 2, Law of the Seas Treaty).
Seaton wastes inordinate amounts of public time on the issue of Vitamin D, spending an entire finance meeting during a special session arguing how Vitamin D can save Alaska $250 million.
A Day at the Republican District 31 Convention
(AKA The Paul Seaton Retirement Party)
By: Peter T. Zuyus
The following is a true story, No names have been changed and Everyone is innocent:
I had the pleasure to attend the District 31 Republican Convention on Saturday the 3rd of Feb. The event was limited to registered Republicans, so yes, I admit to passing that test. This is the first District event I have attended, so I did not know what to expect.
The Republican District 31 has been in the background and a bit quiet for a number of years. From what I witnessed, that is all about to change, in a big way.
It was strictly a no recording device, phones off day so my comments are from old fashioned notes.
The welcome remarks by Nona Safra set the tone for the day, positive and energizing. Followed by a the pledge of allegiance (all hats were off and no one kneeled) then an uplifting invocation by Pastor Julie Wasser.
Ivan Encelewski, Director of the Ninilchik Tribal Council spoke of the tribal contribution to the economy, health and community involvement on the Kenai Peninsula. How Ninilchik tribal activities benefit both native and non-native borough residents. He outlined the on going programs of the Ninilchik Council and the Council support for much of the Republican Party platform and agenda.
Local political speakers included Jon Faulkner Alaska Republican State Party Vice-chair; Neal Duperron, Dist 30 Chair; and Nona Safra, District 31 Chair
Jon spoke about what it means for him to be a Republican. He started by saying the quote for the season is, “Paul Seaton cannot run as a Republican in the state Primary”. For this audience, his speech was very inspiring and well received. Neal Duperron took the floor and in his no holds barred style: told everyone get busy, get active and elect a Republican to District 31.
The attendance was one of the largest ever for the district and the enthusiasm much greater than I expected. Two distinguished state office seekers were present and spoke to the group. Gubernatorial candidate Scott Hawkins dropped in for a few moments, to out line his qualifications and plans for the state fiscal plan.
Ms. Edie Grunwald, candidate for Lt. Governor and retired Air Force Colonel stayed for the whole day. In a short , but engaging presentation she emphasized her background and qualifications for Lt. Governor, later being overheard saying “I was an Air Force Colonel and am now asking you to promote me to Lt. Governor”. Her stance to fight crime and drug abuse in the state was well received. Vibrant and personable, it appears her time spent visiting with local residents earned her considerable respect and local support.
After the state candidate presentations district business carried on. Committees were formed to submit local change recommendations to the state Republican Party Platform.
A wonderful silent auction and a few words from candidates and potential candidates for the District 31 Republican house seat. As Nona Safra eloquently put it “the Republican house seat currently is held by Democrat Paul Seaton, that must change” to loud applause.
John Cox of Anchor Point who has filed to run for the seat, gave an emotional and fiery talk on why he filed to run against Paul Seaton. Outlining his military background and area businessman credentials. A little later, Ms. Sarah Vance from Homer gave a well received look at her intent to run for the District 31 seat. She spoke of the need to bring District 31 back to the Republican party and the core values that Seaton has turned his back on. We can probably expect to hear more from her in the near future.
Conversations overheard indicate that the words of Cox and Vance inspired others to consider entering the race. Who is next?
In general, I have the impression that Republican District 31 is invigorated, going to be vocal, be heard and work hard to elect a Republican to the house. Members have no qualms saying it will not be Democrat Paul Seaton.
During the day, Nona Safra was unanimously elected as Chair of District 31. The attendees were looking forward to her leadership of the District 31 Republican Party.
All in all, it was a fun and educational experience. If District leaders follow through on their commitments, I think we will all be hearing a lot more from KPB Republican District 31.
This is not an endorsement: It is the way it was !!!