A Q&A with Alaska’s state Senate candidates ahead of the 2022 primary election

Candidates across the state answer questions from voters and the Beacon

By: - August 2, 2022 4:46 pm

The Alaska State Capitol on April 22, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney)

In this year’s Alaska legislative elections, 48 candidates are competing for 19 of 20 seats in the state Senate. Because of redistricting, the state Senate seat covering the North Slope, Northwest Arctic Borough and the Seward Peninsula is the only seat not on this year’s ballot.

In the Aug. 16 primary election, each voter will pick one candidate for their local Senate seat. Under the state’s new voting system, the top four vote-getters for each seat would advance to the November general election, where a winner will be chosen through ranked-choice voting.

In all of the Senate races, there are four or fewer candidates, meaning everyone who registered as a candidate will advance through the primary. (The same is true for all of the state House races except one in Fairbanks where five candidates have registered and one will be eliminated in the primary.)

Voters have been receiving updated registration cards this summer, required after Alaska’s once-per-decade redistricting process shifted boundary lines. If you didn’t receive your card or don’t know your Senate district, visit the Division of Elections online.

Ahead of the primary, the Alaska Beacon collected questions from members of the public online and in person, asking voters what they wanted to know about this year’s candidates. We read those questions, picked our favorites, and added a few of our own. The result was a questionnaire with 15 questions — 10 open-ended and five multiple-choice — which we sent to the candidates’ listed email addresses on July 13.

We followed up with phone calls and emails during the week of July 25 and received written responses from 29 candidates. You can see links to their responses below. The answers have not been edited.

Candidates

Senate District A

Mike Sheldon (Republican) — Did not respond

Bert Stedman (R) — Did not respond

Senate District B

Jesse Kiehl (Democratic) — Responded in full

Senate District C

Walt Jones (R) — Responded in full

Heath Smith (R) — Did not respond

Gary Stevens (R) — Did not respond

Senate District D

Tuckerman Babcock (R) — Responded in full

Jesse Bjorkman (R) — Responded in full

Andy Cizek (Nonpartisan) — Responded

Senate District E

Roselynn Cacy (D) — Responded

Cathy Giessel (R) — Responded

Roger Holland (R) — Did not respond

Senate District F 

James Kaufman (R) — Did not respond

Janice Park (D) — Responded in full

Senate District G

Elvi Gray-Jackson (D) — Responded in full

Marcus Sanders (R) — Did not respond

Senate District H

Matt Claman (D) — Responded in full

Mia Costello (R) — Did not respond

Senate District I

Heather Herndon (Undeclared) — Did not respond

Löki Gale Tobin (D) — Responded in full

Senate District J

Drew Cason (D) — Responded in full

Forrest Dunbar (D) — Responded in full

Andrew Satterfield (R) — Responded in full

Geran Tarr (D) — Responded

Senate District K

John Cunningham (R) — Responded in full

Bill Wielechowski (D) — Responded in full

Senate District L

Ken McCarty (R) — Responded in full

Kelly Merrick (R) — Did not respond

Clayton Trotter (R) — Responded in full

Joe Wright (R) — Responded in full

Senate District M

Jim Cooper (D) — Responded in full

Shelley Hughes (R) — Did not respond

Senate District N

Scott Clayton (R) — Did not respond

David Wilson (R) — Did not respond

Stephen Wright (R) — Responded in full

Senate District O

Doug Massie (R) — Did not respond

Mike Shower (R) — Did not respond

Senate District P

Alex Jafre (R) — Responded in full

Scott Kawasaki (D) — Responded in full

Jim Matherly (R) — Responded in full

Senate District Q

John Bennett (N) — Responded in full

Robb Myers (R) — Responded in full

Arthur Serkov (Alaskan Independence) — Responded in full

Senate District R

Click Bishop (R) — Did not respond

Elijah Verhagen (R) — Did not respond

Robert “Bert” Williams (R) — Responded in full

Senate District S

Lyman Hoffman (D) — Did not respond

Willy Keppel (Veterans) — Did not respond

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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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