AM 890 and Serving the Kenai Peninsula
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Vance campaigns on repealing SB91 and larger PFDs

Courtesy of the City of Homer

Sarah Vance is one of three Republican primary candidates in House District 31 vying for the chance to face incumbent and non-partisan candidate Paul Seaton in the general election. Vance is a homeschooling mother of four, and this is her first run for state office. But this is not her first foray in politics.

Vance got her start in Homer politics in 2017 when she was the spokesperson for a political action committee that pushed for the recall of three Homer City Council members.

The recall attempt ultimately failed. Vance went on to run for one of two seats on the council where she was defeated by a wide margin. Now she wants to “unseat Seaton,” the popular motto of the local Republican Party.

Vance declined numerous interview requests for this profile and declined additional requests to be a guest on KBBI’s Coffee Table program.

KBBI was also prohibited from recording her pitch to Republican voters at a meet and greet event in Anchor Point Thursday.

When asked why, Vance responded that she’s made her stances public on other platforms.

“Well, I’ve made my other media available. My viewpoints are on radio in another venue. So, they are being made available to the public,” she said.

Vance did answer a few of KBBI’s questions during a Republican primary debate back in June. When asked about her chances of winning the primary and defeating Seaton in the general, Vance said she’s confident in her connection with voters.

“They want to be heard and truly represented. That’s what I’m doing. I’m going out and meeting people all over the district and going at it from that angle,” she explained. “Every incumbent was a new candidate at some point in time.”

Repealing SB91, a controversial criminal justice reform bill, has been central to Vance’s platform. Here’s Vance speaking to supporters via Facebook Live.

“That has allowed much of the catch and release to happen in our state,” she complained. “The purpose of SB91 was to help reduce recidivism and reduce the number of people being in our prisons that was costing the state so much money.”

Vance acknowledged in the video that eliminating the bill would cost millions of dollars, but she thinks SB91 puts Alaskans’ safety at risk.

“Cuts need to be made, but they can be made elsewhere. The first priority [of the state] needs to be the safety of its citizens. I plan to do that,” she said via Facebook.

Vance, like many candidates, is also running to restore the old formula used to calculate PFDs.   Lawmakers passed a bill last year that allowed the Legislature to spend money from the Permanent Fund earnings reserve on dividends and state government.

That reduced dividends and this year’s budget gap from $2.4 billion to just $700 million.  

Vance strongly opposes the move and likens it to stealing from Alaskans. But removing the draw on the earnings reserve would cost the state over $1 billion annually, and Vance has not detailed any concrete proposals on how to fill the resulting the multi-billion-dollar budget gap if the former PFD formula was restored. 

Vance has pointed to budget cuts as a partial solution to the state’s fiscal problem, though she has not specified where cuts could be made either on social media, her campaign website or during public events that KBBI attended.  

She also suggested finding efficiencies in state government during June’s debate.

“There’s so many things that we look at in our own home that we say, you know what, I still need this, but how can I do it differently to reduce cost, and I think we can do that in the state,” she added.

As for additional revenue, Vance said during that same debate that the Legislature and the state need to create more jobs. She did not explain how that would funnel money into state coffers. Alaska has no statewide sales, property or income taxes.

Vance opposes any broad-based statewide tax, which is usually the main mechanism that help states benefit from job creation.

Vance has also criticized Rep. Seaton’s support for a state income tax and said it would be a burden on Alaskans.

But in order to face Seaton in the general election this fall, Vance will first need to defeat her current opponents John Cox and Henry Kroll in the Republican Primary Tuesday.

Aaron Bolton has moved on to a new position in Montana; he is no longer KBBI News Director. KBBI is currently seeking a News Director, and Kathleen Gustafson is filling in for the time being.
Renee joined KBBI in 2017 as a general assignment reporter and host. Her work has appeared on such shows as Weekend Edition Saturday, The World, Marketplace and Studio 360. Renee previously interned as a reporter for KPCC in Los Angeles and as a producer for Stateside at Michigan Radio. Her work has earned her numerous press club awards. She holds an M.S. in journalism from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in women's studies from the University of Michigan.
Related Content