Alaska in Brief

Q&A with 2022 Alaska U.S. House candidate Chris Bye

By: - July 28, 2022 12:34 am

The chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives are seen in 2017 in this photograph from the Office of the Speaker of the House. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

The Alaska Beacon asked Alaska’s 22 U.S. House candidates to answer a 15-question survey about their positions on a variety of issues. Read all of their responses here. Answers have not been edited.

Chris Bye, Libertarian candidate from Fairbanks

Yes/no questions

Do you believe former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent?

Did not answer

Should Election Day be a federal holiday?

Did not answer

Don Young was a longtime supporter of statehood for Puerto Rico. Do you support statehood for Puerto Rico?


Should marijuana be legalized federally?


Would you vote in favor of a bill that codifies abortion rights in US law?

Did not answer

Open-ended questions

What do you think about the overturning of Roe, and what actions should Congress take on abortion and contraception?

The SCOTUS response is good for governance. It places the decision on states and therefore the voters, where it should have been all along. Make contraception and other medicines available for all people without a doctor’s prescription. In most nations, behind-the-counter medicines are readily available; either their education system is teaching folks to read the labels and directions better than the US or there is some financial incentive that prevents this fairly easy de-regulatory action.

What’s Alaska’s biggest need, and how would you address it?

Opportunity. Currently professional and skilled trade jobs meet immediate needs but the next graduating class from UAF or from trade schools have limited options within the state. Upward momentum is stifled. Energy costs are crushing the families and businesses. The trickling effect is that everything goes up in cost due to transportation costs again crushing families.
1) Reduce the chaos and turmoil from DC that drives this crushing experience by managing our own resources; after all Nobody loves Alaska more than Alaskans. (Targeted De-regulation)
2) Immediately transfer the 36m acres from the BLM to the Alaskan People. (Completing Statehood Promises)
3) Strive towards energy independence by using diverse sources such as nuclear, geothermal, solar, natural gas, coal, and oil. (Targeted De-regulation)

How should Congress reduce the threat of gun violence and mass shootings?

There are laws against Murder, Arson, Assault, Threatening violence, guns in gun-free zones, etc, and yet those rules and regulations do little to stop the violence. One or two or five new laws are not going to stop this. We are not going to be able to stop this with a one-size fit all option. In fact, curbing this will require a local community solution. Local leaders, church, sports, education, and others must be present and aware of young people and their struggles. Most importantly PARENTS must take a proactive role in their children. I would encourage Parents to review the video games their kids are playing particularly GTA or COD. If you are not aware of these games please take a few minutes and play them with your children and make a determination if the games are suitable for them. Next, take a solid look at the movies they are watching. The idea that we are somehow immune from repetitive exposure to death and violence is stupid. As a Combat Veteran, I would say exposure to hostile environments and death affects each of us differently. Parents should be the ones to implement controls on their kids.

What steps should Congress take to balance Alaska’s status as an oil state with the need to address climate change?

Natural Resource Development sustains this state. It funds our education system, roads, healthcare, fuel to the bush, everything. If we are to tackle this idea called climate change there are a few things we can effectively do that would have resounding immediate impacts. And they do not require any new laws.
1) Take personal responsibility. Stop using your vehicle. Stop flying to the lower 48. Stop purchasing products that contribute to this issue. No more AK footwear…. those brown boots are made of petroleum products. No more gore-tex. No more nylon clothing or spandex leggings. Hair and cosmetic products must go too. No more new phones. Grow your own food. Your consumerism fuels this issue as much if not more than Alaska Oil Companies. In fact raw ingredients must shipped, processed and ship to you. By reducing your demand you are affecting the entire chain.
2) Urban Heat Island effect. Move to the country. One of the most studied and proven climate changers is Urban Heat Island effect where urban buildings, parking lots, roads and A/Cs produce copious amounts of heat that has an impact much greater in surface area than the urban environment. Planting trees can reduce this by a few percentage points but it is pretty minimal.
3) Enable the UA system and others to produce technical professionals to tackle a diverse state-wide energy policy. This could include improved horizontal drilling. Invest in high voltage power lines to bring power across Alaska reducing the need for local generators. We could place such a power plant near the fuel source (Deadhorse or Prudhoe) reducing transportation cost and using high voltage lines bring power to villages and cities. Strategic wind farms, geothermal, nuclear and solar should be considered and evaluated as possible solutions to Alaska needs.

What changes or updates do you want to see in fisheries management?

Thank you for asking this.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council is rife with issues. This council governs the waters surrounding Alaska. Salmon is a statewide issue. Yet we are very much underrepresented on this council. Seats on this council are given to Washington and Oregon. Those states have their own home waters. Those seats should be given to upriver communities such as Eagle, Fort Yukon, Galena, Bethel, or Copper Center.
This council is much like many Federal boards or councils: industry has a significant voting presence. This should be reduced to provide better representation to Alaska (Americans).
We have studied by-catch long enough. It is time to enact solutions. Task UA and others with this problem set and implement them. Phase out bottom trawling; first restrict the practice to beyond 175 miles of the shoreline, next reduce permits to continue this practice.
The ocean is a web where effects on one portion have impacts on the entire system. Imagine the industry response if upriver communities captured all salmon prior to spawning. What would they demand?
Salmon are only renewable as long as there are Salmon. This is true for all fisheries.

Should Congress act to protect voting rights and encourage voting, and if so, how?

Voting is a state responsibility in accordance with the US Constitution. We could enact any protections we want for Alaska; if necessary put a ballot initiative forward. The idea that centralized power can create an effective one-size fits all solution is not based on reality.

Yes, we should absolutely be encouraging our neighbors to vote, with emphasis on “we” as in Alaskans. Get out and motivate your neighbors, friends, and family. Leave no voter behind! I do not care how you voted in the past, I care about how you vote in the future. That vote represents opportunity for improvements for current Alaskans and future Alaskans. Decisions will be made by the motivated bases who come to the table. By not voting you are not at the table to influence decisions which leaves a smaller portion of the population making decisions for all of us. Vote.

Alaska has the highest health care costs in the nation. What will you do to reduce costs and improve access to services?

Every governmental solution brings with it second and third order effects. Before President Reagan’s attempt to solve healthcare with HMOs the medical profession was primarily service based not business based. Subsequent attempts by centralized powers have only exacerbated the issue making healthcare an extremely lucrative business and not the service-oriented enterprise it could be. Government-sanctioned “monopoly” of healthcare using laws such as “Certificate of Need” has eliminated any competitive healthcare options for Alaskans. This could enable local non-hospital affiliated doctors and PAs to practice in our rural and larger towns. These professionals can provide relationship-based healthcare that takes a holistic view of patient care while affording competition to the single option we currently have under Providence. These private options can provide reach back to larger facilities when required services exceed their capabilities.

There is a role for the State and the UA system to help solve this issue. Together with buy-in from Alaskans perhaps scholarships can be provided to grow our own doctors (medical staff) with a requirement to serve Alaskans for six years under private, tribal, or municipal medical facilities. As a practice, perhaps the newly minted doctors serve in larger facilities for two years before transitioning out to rural locations for the remainder of their tour thereby building some additional experience in Alaska before running a clinic on their own.

One issue that will need to be resolved is the liability coverage for these medical professionals. Our legal system is very well prepared to monetarily capitalize on any circumstance valid or otherwise. This lawyer cost comes with a price that is passed on to patients. Acceptable reform based upon the state and locality provides the best solutions.

How should Congress protect the rights of LGBTQ Alaskans?

I am weary of a centralized government paying attention to one segment instead of all of us. Division does not make us stronger. Relationships build the resiliency necessary to tackle protecting the rights of all of us.

Alaska families say they’re struggling financially in a variety of ways, including with child care. What actions should Congress take to support families with children?

DC should get out of the way. Critical to many of these struggles is the insistence by DC decree that certain parameters are met no matter what. Allow local and state governments to determine minimum requirements for most civic requirements including childcare. Allow parents to determine what acceptable levels in a free market. Alaska is blessed to have enormous reserves of bright hardworking folks. We should tap into this resource. Alaskans can provide solutions to these problems that do not include DC. Are we willing to pay taxes to support childcare in Sacramento? Why would we expect San Antonio or St Louis residents to pay for childcare up here? The idea that some DC politician or Federal bureaucrat knows what is best for us, our kids, or our communities is laughable and dangerous. You merely have to look at the traffic circle on Chena Hotsprings Road just north of Fairbanks as an example. Since being mandated and constructed less than three years ago, more single vehicle accidents have happened than in the previous 20 years. That my friends is a multi-million dollar solution looking for a problem and making it worse for local Alaskans.

What improvements to Alaskans’ day to day lives can you make from the House of Representatives?

Freedom. Freedom to make our own choices. Freedom to voice your opinions regarding DC decisions. As your Representative, we make decisions together. No more will decisions be made by party elites and special interests. Alaska’s vote will be made by Alaskans. As it should be.
Every day in DC they do one of two things. They either spend money or make new regulations. Or they do both. Rarely do either of them make our lives better. We end up with a Chena Hotsprings Roundabout or the PREP Act which places the financial burden of adverse events from vaccines onto the backs of taxpayers instead of the vaccine makers.

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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]