Vance and Cooper face off on public TV

Oct 1, 2020

Independent challenger Kelly Cooper, left, and incumbent Republican Rep. Sarah Vance, appear on Running 2020 with KTOO's Nat Herz.
Credit KTOO screen capture

The two candidates for House District 31, the Southern Kenai Peninsula from Homer to the south edge of Soldotna, faced off in a forum sponsored by Alaska Public Media and KTOO-Juneau.
    Nat Herz moderated the short segment of Public TV’s “Running,” with incumbent Republican Sarah Vance and Independent Kelly Cooper -- both of Homer.
   One pointed question was about the candidates’ thoughts concerning Governor Mike Dunleavy’s nominee for the Alaska Board of Fisheries. One candidate was undecided, while the other was a hard no.
“The governor appointed an employee of the Pebble Partnership, that's the company that's seeking to build the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, to the Board of Fisheries. His name is Abe Williams, he's Pebble’s director of regional affairs. Do you think Mr. Williams should be confirmed?” Herz asked, starting with Rep. Vance.
“I've had the pleasure of interviewing Abe Williams myself, and he's come with high recommendations on his insight into the fishery. I do find that unfortunate that his interaction, his name of being associated with Pebble has been a detriment to him,” Vance said. “And, I've heard from my district that they feel that because of his ties to Pebble, that that would interfere with his ability to govern and make decisions on the Board of Fisheries. However, it should never come as a point of interest in the committee. I've not made a full decision on that, but I will follow. I am taking more insights from people in my district and the fishermen on that issue, we’re still receiving emails. So I have not made a full decision at this time.”
“Ms. Cooper?”
“He absolutely should not be. He should not have been brought forth as a consideration. The Bristol Bay area is critical to our fish. And, the Board of Fish is a not as balanced as I would like to see it. We don't have the coastal representation. A lot of them are Interior and these appointments to the board should not be political. They should be based on someone's ability to do the work and their experience and their representation, and the coastal communities are sorely underrepresented,” Cooper said. “And I absolutely do not support him being appointed to the Board of Fish.”
Regarding assistance for families, Herz asked, “Ms. Cooper, childcare has been a huge problem...
“That's a tough one. Owning an espresso stand as well as the rental cabins that I have, I do have employees that have childcare issues and occasionally they're at work with them, which we really try to accommodate,” Cooper said. “So the Legislature needs to try to utilize some of our CARES funds to promote the opportunity for childcare. I think that's a big part of our economy and maximizing those dollars would help in going forward with that.”
“Thank you, Ms. Cooper,” Herz said. “Representative Vance?”
“One of the first things that we could do is help provide the stability in our education system," Vance said. "A lot of parents are put into a bind when the schools are choosing not to open during the pandemic for a variety of reasons. And are left with not knowing if they will be able to go to work and where their children are gonna be taken care of. So we need to help offer after-school programs and be able to give them the assurance that school will be open or will be closed.”
    Host Nat Herz also had a series of yes-or-no questions for the two candidates.
    HERZ: “Now we'll move on to the lightning round where we'll ask each candidate a series of yes or no questions. We'll start with Ms. Cooper: Are you getting a flu shot this year, yes or no?”
    COOPER: “I already have it. Yes.”
    VANCE: “No.”
    HERZ: “Do you think Alaska should pay a statutory Permanent Fund Dividend next year, which would add more than a billion dollars to the deficit compared to this year? Yes or no?
    COOPER: “No.”
    VANCE: “Yes.”
    HERZ: “Do you support a state income tax to help fill the deficit? Yes or no?
    VANCE: “No.”
    COOPER: “Not at this time.”
    HERZ: “Is global warming a serious threat to the state that demands action from the legislature, yes or no?”    
    COOPER: “Absolutely.”
    VANCE: “Yes.”
    Election day is on November 3.