The House floor on April 22, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney)
The Alaska Beacon asked Alaska’s legislative 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.
Jeremy Bynum, Republican candidate from Ketchikan
The Alaska Constitution allows legislators to call a constitutional convention at any time. Are you interested in calling a convention?
Would you be willing to join a coalition majority in which the opposite political party controls a majority of seats?
Should new public employees have access to a pension?
Should the state take over the federal permitting process that regulates construction in wetlands?
Should Juneteenth be a state holiday?
How should the state of Alaska set the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend each year?
Existing statutes should be reevaluated to ensure protections for the long-term health of the Permanent Fund; the PFD should be calculated in a manner that ensures continued growth in the fund and consistency in payments.
What’s the biggest need in your district, and how would you address it?
There are two major needs: reliable Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) services and housing. The AMHS is a vital part of our livelihoods and economy. Solutions for the long-term stability of the AMHS is to modernize the system to meet our ongoing needs and to have it operate as an independent department. Housing is another issue that is slowing economic growth and affordability for families. Some possible solutions include matching grant funding for new utilities during land development, partnerships with the state for road and access development, and additional access to land.
What policies and laws should Alaska follow with regard to abortion?
The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that “reproductive rights are fundamental, and that they are encompassed within the right to privacy expressed in article I, section 22 of the Alaska Constitution (Valley Hosp. Ass’n v. Mat-Su Coalition, 1997). Although I will uphold the constitution, I do believe that abortion should be infrequent and other options should be supported, specifically, strengthened adoption programs. I support the line-of-thought that life begins at conception; however, I understand that when evaluating the meaning of life and when it starts, it is more complicated when it is evaluated based on ones alignment of morality, religious beliefs, logical evaluations, scientific ideas, and legal standards.
How should the state reduce the threat of gun violence and mass shootings?
I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Art. 1, sec. 19 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska; any laws or programs developed cannot infringe on those rights. The majority of firearms related deaths in Alaska are results of suicide. In addition, Veterans within Alaska are statistically at higher risk of suicide than national rates. We can reduce these deaths by providing better mental health care programs and better Veterans care access. Statistically, mass shootings are not an identified issue within Alaska.
How much should a legislator’s faith or religion determine state law and policy?
A person’s faith or religion will guide who they are, how they think, and what they do. Although beliefs define who we may be, they should not specifically drive legislation or policy. We should never discriminate based on faith or religious beliefs, as they are protected, but we should also remember that our guidance for laws and policies is our Constitution.
What should the state do to improve retention of public employees, including teachers?
Although financial compensation is a component of retailing employees, it is not the only factor. We need to ensure we have a competitive working environment, stable leadership that is motivating, a work environment that inspires a rededication to public service, and opportunities for employee growth. We need to ensure we have a stable long-term budget, as this will create certainty for employees and those they serve. Developing our workforce from within should also be a goal for Alaskans.
What does an ideal state ferry system look like?
The ideal ferry system would provide consistent and reliable service; it would be affordable and easy to access. Our ferry service is critical for Alaska’s growth and continued prosperity. The ferry system must modernize, have a long-term plan that cannot be arbitrarily changed by short-term ambitions, and operate as an independent department.
What, if any, changes does the state need to make to ensure voting is equitable and secure?
I believe Alaska will continue to provide equitable and safe elections as long as we follow our laws. Our local officials do a phenomenal job of ensuring ethical and accessible elections.
What do you intend to do about the poor returns of salmon in the Yukon and Kuskokwim drainages, and what are the main causes of the problems?
The best thing I can do is listen and learn the needs of those directly impacted, diligently study the problem, work with regional fisheries experts, and work with other legislators, groups, and departments to develop meaningful legislation to solve the problem.
What constitutional amendments, if any, do you support?
I support the entirety of the Constitution. As far as potential constitutional amendments, I would support any amendment that; affirms a strong, diversified economy based on the free market, a solid work ethic, safe workspaces, a well-trained and educated work-force, and access to resources; allows active management of, access to, and reasonable incentives for the responsible development and utilization of all of Alaska’s natural resources; and minimizes governmental intervention in our lives.
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