Election Candidate Forum: Alaska House of Representatives Candidate Tyler Ivanoff
Nome Nugget: What do you identify as the most pressing issues the State of Alaska faces and how do you propose to address these Issues?
Tyler Ivanoff: The Permanent Fund is going to continue to be a pressing issue for the constituents in our District. While the money is there for the PFD, the State should give the people their money.
The salmon crash across our district has been by far the largest issue from the Lower Yukon to the homes across the Bering Strait and Norton Sound. Salmon not only provides a staple of nutrition to our people, but an economic resource for those who hold salmon permits. We’ve got to see what is causing this crash and take action to make this valuable resource not disappear.
Another issue is to rebuild and continue to protect things that were damaged by the last storm, Typhoon Merbok. I don’t think that this will be the last storm that will hit our coastline, and we’ve got to be prepared in the future by improving our infrastructure to sustain that devastating impact that these storms may cause.
NN: What are your priorities in the state’s budgeting process?
TI: We’ve got to make sure our expenditures match our income. If we continue to overspend, the State is going to continue to look at Funds like the Permanent Fund and the PCE fund to dip their fingers into. I don’t like this, and I would push for a State spending cap on our budget.
NN: Do you support forward-funding Education?
TI: As a 4th grade teacher I can tell you that the biggest positive impact that students have are schools that have teachers and administrators supporting their students. Teacher and administrative turnover in our rural districts is allowing new teachers and new administrators to come in with new ideas to try to get test scores up. We need to continue to support programs that develop our own teachers who know our students’ needs.
If the State does decide to forward fund education, we need to look at the schools that are performing well and try to implement what they are doing to help their students. Maybe we don’t need to keep spending more and more on new curriculum. Instead of funding education ahead of time, I see this as a large expense that needs to be visited annually.
NN: How can the Dept. of Public Safety be supported to improve proper law enforcement and safety for rural Alaskans?
TI: We can give our VPSO’s better training to become investigators. Sometimes we have to wait for hours to have an investigation happen. Our VPSO’s are not fully trained like the Alaska State Troopers. We also need to put VPSO’s or Troopers in communities that need them. Some communities in rural Alaska don’t have any kind of law enforcement, but only have VPO’s with little to no training serving their communities.
NN: Infrastructure in rural Alaska is in dire need of maintenance and repair. What is your plan to address rural transportation needs?
TI: We need more money put into road maintenance and repair. It is evident that our communities, including the City of Nome, need funding for resurfacing their roads. I’ve driven on these roads. Why isn’t this topic addressed by our current Representative? We need more access to federal funding and use the resources that we have at the State level to make these improvements. With poor road conditions, the cost of maintenance turns to the people, and the cost of maintenance in rural Alaska isn’t cheap.
NN: How would you propose to balance the state budget without dipping into the Permanent Fund earnings?
TI: As the Permanent Fund grows our state budget continues to grow with it. We need to put some kind of spending cap on our state budget. Without putting a cap on our spending, legislators will 1) decide to dip into the PFD or 2) impose a state income tax. I’m not pushing for an income tax, and there’s no way that I support continuing to dip into the PFD. We need to find a way to use our resources to generate revenue, and we need to look at restructuring our oil taxes because right now, the deficit that we are having with the state is nearly the same amount as what the state is paying credits to oil companies.
NN: How can the state address the increasingly devastating effects of the climate crisis as seen in fishery disasters, ecosystem changes and severe weather events?
TI: We need to have studies and funding set aside to continue to let our resources be sustainable resources. Our people depend on our ocean resources. We’ve got to find ways to protect our communities against the severe weather events, and we’ve got to find ways to rebuild our ocean resources. We need to let our ocean heal, and we need to stop some of the fisheries that cause this harm.
NN: With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion is delegated back to states. What is your stance on abortion rights and what legislative action – if any - would you support regarding abortion and/or contraception in Alaska?
TI: Before I make a decision on where I stand, I really would like to hear the voice of what our constituents decide on this issue. This has really been a sticky issue, and I really don’t want to take a stance on it at the moment.
NN: What is your opinion on the ballot question whether the state should convene a constitutional convention?
TI: The only reason I see this working is to allow for the PFD to be put into the Constitution. Without this, legislators can continue to determine yearly how the PFD is spent. A Yes vote would allow this. However, a No Vote would allow for our Constitution to remain the same. There are some good things in the Constitution that protect the rights of Alaskans and Alaskan Natives. Like the Roe vs. Wade Issue. I would totally leave this idea up to the constituents of the District, and their vote on this year’s ballot.