In four months, Congresswoman Mary Peltola can accomplish much: Here are some possible ways how
Here are five suggested goals as Alaska’s new U.S. representative arrives in the U.S. Capitol
(Photos by Andrew Kitchenman/Alaska Beacon and Matt H. Wade via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA)
Along with much of the Alaska Native community, I am celebrating every moment of Mary Peltola’s win in the special election to fill the remainder of the late Congressman Don Young’s term. I know that she will bring her pride into the chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives and get straight to work and accomplish as much as she and her office can in the next four months. I see five goals which can be a strong focus for the collective work to represent all Alaska.
- Secure the appointment of an Alaska Native as the newly created Arctic ambassador by the U.S. Department of State. Just seven years ago this week, the Obama White House was leading an international conference and gathering about Arctic policy in Anchorage, and hosted many Alaska Native leaders to join the table as lifelong experts of Arctic science, knowhow and understanding. There are many to choose from, from classes of leaders at the Inuit Circumpolar Council and Aleut International Association, as well as from local governments in boroughs, tribal councils and organizations, and municipal governments. Congresswoman Peltola knows many of these potential candidates on a first-name basis.
- Foster a bipartisan relationship and coalition with the Alaska U.S. Senate delegation in Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan, as well as with the Dunleavy gubernatorial administration. All statewide elected offices have lifelong connections to rural Alaska. The recent federal stimulus and relief packages under the bipartisan Infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act will require support from our full Alaska congressional delegation to maximize use of available and upcoming federal funding for community, regional and statewide capital projects.
- Under a strong bipartisan relationship with her Alaska U.S. Senate counterparts and the Dunleavy administration, work toward addressing the Yukon and Kuskokwim Chinook and chum fisheries crashes the past few seasons, including this season. Senator Sullivan has recently introduced legislation for the Coast Guard to enforce laws and rules against illegal, unreported and unregulated high seas fishing in the Bering Sea. But another strategy would be to bring actual Yukon and Kuskokwim subsistence fishermen into leadership roles to address the salmon fisheries crashes from the perspectives of those who have been harmed the most.
- Bring Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for an extended Alaska visit, particularly during the 2022 Annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. Deb Haaland as a fellow Native American will have just as much to celebrate with a Congresswoman Peltola and a unique working relationship could be struck up in the short amount of time left in the term. Congresswoman Peltola could bring Secretary Haaland home to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta National Wildlife Refuge so the secretary would have a locally based guide for showing the abundant and pristine natural resources and wildlife of our great state.
- Have fun! As much work that needs to be done for all Alaska, there is so much to celebrate as the first woman from Alaska and the first Alaska Native elected to the U.S. House. Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., has a lot to offer in connecting with fellow humans from around the world. I as well as many other Alaskans will be looking forward to watching a Congresswoman Peltola enter and speak from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and watching her sit on her assigned committees, as well as the many other public engagement opportunities that are abundant on Capitol Hill.
Best of luck, Mary!
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Freddie R. Olin IV