The Alaska State Capitol 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.
Jesse Bjorkman, Republican candidate from Nikiski
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?
I believe that the Legislature should set the dividend amount by following the law. We must develop a budget that is responsive and sustainable without taxing hardworking Alaskans or their businesses.
What’s the biggest need in your district, and how would you address it?
The thing that would most positively impact the Kenai Peninsula is to have a thriving economy that provides opportunities for working families to build worthwhile and meaningful lives for themselves.
The State of Alaska must have policies in place that make Alaska truly open for business. The state must work effectively with our Federal partners to develop our resources. I will work hard to secure a robust oil industry and promote clean extraction of critical minerals through mining. Alaska must find ways to add value to our resources, grow our economy and support good jobs for hard working Alaskans.
What policies and laws should Alaska follow with regard to abortion?
I am pro-life. I believe that folks need to recognize the complexities of this issue and truly value the lives of both mother and baby. As a culture we must work toward the goal of abortion being unnecessary. We must do more in Alaska to make reproductive education and contraceptives more available in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring. Taking the life of an innocent human is not an acceptable solution, especially when there are many preventative measures available.
How should the state reduce the threat of gun violence and mass shootings?
Alaska does not need new gun laws. We need more involvement from dads and positive male role models in our society. The State of Alaska must prioritize the availability of mental health services for those who are experiencing mental health crises.
How much should a legislator’s faith or religion determine state law and policy?
My faith in God provides a set of principles for me to use as a baseline for the decisions that I make. Most importantly we must treat each other with the dignity and respect that we expect for ourselves. I believe in limited government and maximum freedom. In a society that values religious freedom, our laws should reflect broad cultural preferences and norms. I do not support legislating sectarian religious ideals into the law that governs everyone.
What should the state do to improve retention of public employees, including teachers?
The State of Alaska must offer competitive pay and benefits to attract and retain quality employees to serve the great people of this state.
We must craft laws and policies that provide flexibility to maximize the pool of quality candidates. Alaska is one of the only states in the US that offers no access to Social Security and no defined benefit option for its employees. This must change if Alaska is serious about keeping troopers in our communities, teachers in classrooms, and our roads well plowed.
Other states offer models that give employees a choice to earn a pension but protect the state treasury now and into the future. As a fiscal conservative, I want Alaska to lead on offering competitive benefits to quality candidates while ensuring a cost-neutral or cost-saving approach to offering additional options to retain employees.
What does an ideal state ferry system look like?
Ideally, the state ferry system would be self-funded by farebox revenues. The ferry system must be managed in a way that seeks to make it a cost neutral service for the State to operate. Unprofitable ferry routes that parallel roads need to be eliminated and instead we must focus on providing a reasonable level of service to communities off of the road system.
What, if any, changes does the state need to make to ensure voting is equitable and secure?
Overall, I believe our elections are relatively secure and equitable. However, I would like the state to require photo ID in order to vote. Also, we need to have electronic signature verification for absentee by mail voting.
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?
I believe that we must preserve a harvestable surplus of salmon for the residents of the salmon’s home drainage first. This means that we must do everything possible to eliminate trawler bycatch, deal with ocean acidification, and other factors that are leading to declining salmon returns.
What constitutional amendments, if any, do you support?
I support a constitutional spending limit that works to prioritize the needs of working Alaskans. Also, I support a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a dividend from the Alaska Permanent Fund be paid based on a statutory formula.
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