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Homer House Candidate Sees Value in Compromise

Louie Flora
Image provided.
Louie Flora

Flora says he will caucus in the majority in order to have a voice at the table, which he says is now missing.

Last week, Homer commercial fisherman Louie Flora declared his candidacy for State House District 6, the new district that will serve Homer, the South Peninsula and Kachemak Bay. The area’s current representative, Sarah Vance is serving the last year of her second term.

Flora, who is running as a non-partisan, has extensive experience in the state capitol, having worked for Homer Republican State House Rep. Paul Seaton for 10 years, while also serving as committee staff.

“That's the person that organizes the committee hearings and brings research and other, and materials to the committee and distributes them and communicates with other legislators about the committee work. And so I did that on a number of different standing and special committees, including the Fisheries committee and resources and education,” Flora said.

Flora says the legislative process can be frustrating when viewed from the outside, but he finds it can be productive.

“I think it's a wonderful process, a really human process and I've always thought, you know, when looking at it from the outside It's infuriating, and I respect that and understand why people would, you know, have a low opinion of the, of the legislative body. But really it's a, fundamentally an American process, get ideas on the table and, and have the discussion and debate,” Flora said.

Flora says in the current environment very little can get done in the legislature, and he wants more compromise.

“I just see it now it's, it's very polarized and kind of, there's a lot of rhetoric and scorched-earth politics going on and I think that leads to politics that cause gridlock. Because right now with the fiscal situation in the state, it's a complicated math problem and the the numbers really don't work out for achieving the reality of what promise there and think a pragmatic approach, you know, a better approach is to compromise and come up with fiscal solution that, you know, maybe we're not all completely happy with but we at least achieve more stability and so part of the reason I'm running is I don't believe that the current incumbent is proven capable of compromise,” Flora said.

Flora says if he’s elected, he will be at the table.

“I would caucus with whoever's in the majority so I can have a seat at the table. You know, I think being in the sidelines in the minority and just throwing bombs is not necessarily healthy for, for the district and I saw, you know, I when we, when I worked with Rep. Seaton, and we were able to do a lot of stuff for the district. We brought natural gas, you know, we're able to fight for allocations that essentially brought natural gas line down to Homer and that saves customer is a lot of money over time on space heat and create, you know, decrease the emissions and so I think when you're in the in the majority, in the thick of it, you have the opportunity to benefit your district and the people in your district, and that's what it's all about really, is trying to make people's lives better,” Flora said.

The future of both the Alaska Permanent Fund and the Dividend are of concern for Flora. He wants to enshrine the PFD check in the state constitution, but he is not interested in a general constitutional convention, which Alaskans may choose to have once every 10 years, because that would open it up to special interest group influence.

"I feel very poorly about that idea because I once had a professor at, I went to University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a Alaska history professor. And she said if we ever have a constitutional convention the state will sink under the weight of all the lobbyists and money that come into the state, you know, constitutional convention is a, wide open It's not just on a specific question it's, it's the whole “shebang.” And that's the, you know, foundational document for all our laws. So I think having, having, opening that up to as many special interest groups as you can possibly imagine is, you know, it's, it's a dangerous, dangerous proposition. And so I'm strongly opposing that,” Flora said.

The 45-year-old Flora was elected last year to the Homer Electric Association Board of Directors. He said talking to co-op members and hearing their concerns fueled his decision to run for State House.

Flora, who grew up on East End Road, has fished many gear types since coming to Homer from Fairbanks as a preschooler with his family, and he now driftnets in Bristol Bay. He’s married to Sarah Banks and they have two children.

Jay Barrett, KBBI's new News Director should be a familiar voice to our listeners. He's been contributing to Kenai Peninsula news for the last three years out of KDLL Kenai, and was the voice of The Alaska Fisheries Report from KMXT for 12 years. Jay worked for KBBI about 20 years ago as the Central Peninsula Reporter at KDLL.