I announced my campaign for Alaska’s sole seat in the United States House of Representatives on Independence Day, 2021. I applied as a Republican, after competing in the Republican primary for a race for the State House in 1994 – I lost five points, 52.5% -47.5%. Since I started my campaign for Congress last summer on July 4, things have changed.
During the election campaign, many people told me that the Republican and Democratic parties had derailed on concerns of importance to Alaskans. I agree, and like many Alaskans, I no longer feel at home in either party. I am still a conservative in principle, pragmatic, successful, without drama, conservative. But now I believe I can better represent the independent-minded Alaskans of Last Frontier in Congress as an Independent.
I declare myself independent for three reasons. First, Republican senators and members of Congress, with too few exceptions, are distracted by relegating the latest election and not working passionately to solve the truly difficult issues facing Alaskans and the country today. There is no excuse for this neglect of their primary mission and there is no sign that the situation is improving.
Second, too many active Republicans are either silent or deaf on some important issues facing Alaskans. They are silent when it comes to the widespread lack of affordable housing, homelessness, health care and the high cost of prescription drugs. They are turning a deaf ear to the call for our Alaskan generation to develop balanced strategies to create jobs and help our economy recover from COVID-19, while facing the fierce emergency of climate change. And Republicans generally seem frozen with inaction in the face of internet scams, cybersecurity and privacy, as well as protection against identity theft, spyware and ransomware.
The third and deepest reason I now declare myself independent is the growing effort of the Republican Party to undermine the integrity of elections and democracy across the country. In 2021, Republican lawmakers introduced bills in Arizona, Missouri, and Nevada that would allow state legislatures to override and veto the votes of their constituents and directly or indirectly reject the results of the voters. presidential and other elections. For example, Arizona HB 2027 would grant the state legislature the ability to revoke the secretary of state’s certification “by majority vote at any time prior to the presidential inauguration.” Thank goodness none of these bills have become law yet.
Democracy is sacred. Voting is sacred. Voters are sacred. These are fundamental American principles that date back to before the founding of the country. The Boston Tea Party was a fight for “taxation without representation” – the vote. We waged our war for independence from the dictatorial king of England to rule us through legally eligible voters voting for our government leaders. Any attempt to erase legitimate votes is sacrilege.
Sadly, some Alaskan Republican candidates might now be flirting with that. Maybe more will as this campaign season unfolds. I support the right of these candidates to express themselves in the ideas market. But I will not remain silent while fundamental democratic values are under attack. As an independent, I will put my competing message in the same market: voters, not partisan or other legislatures, are the ultimate voice in our democracy. I also want to show our young people how to protect the democracy imagined by the founders of our nation. Our ancestors fought for democracy. I will too.
On the other side of our two-party system, the Democratic Party is also a mixed bag for Alaska. The $ 1 trillion package currently being proposed by the Democrats contains things we need for Alaskans, including climate change mitigation measures. But he also has a lot of lard. Sadly, Democrats live up to their well-deserved reputation for overspending.
However, Democrats have also laudably generated the Infrastructure Bill which will bring roughly $ 10 billion or more to critical projects in Alaska. Senator Lisa Murkowski bravely helped negotiate this, and the entire Republican delegation in Congress from Alaska voted in favor. They did so despite opposition from a majority of Republican senators and U.S. officials who ignored the considerable needs of their home states with the futile goal of denying Democrats a legislative victory.
I recently served as director of the two largest local governments in Bristol Bay, where I helped protect these communities from COVID-19 during the annual summer wave of thousands of commercial fishermen and canneries in the heart of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. I know firsthand the immeasurable value these billions of dollars will bring to repairing Alaska’s aging roads, ferries, water and sewer systems, communications and ports. It does not matter who initiated this important piece of legislation. It is important that we have it.
I went from Republican to Independent on January 6, the first anniversary of the violent attack on the United States Capitol. This attack was an attempt to obstruct America’s greatest triumph of democracy – the peaceful transition of our country’s political leadership. On the anniversary, the state and National Republican Party websites went silent. No. We must see January 6 for what it was and must never let it happen again.
Neither side has a monopoly on crafting effective solutions to Alaska’s problems, or making mistakes along the way. But, in my opinion, neither side is actually putting in all the energy and creativity that we need now. Alaska needs a new conservative, creative and independent voice in Congress to meet a new generation of challenges in Alaska. I am ready to take on these challenges and will work with anyone who strives with me to serve the interests of Alaska.
Gregg B. Brelsford is an independent candidate for Alaska’s sole seat in the United States House of Representatives in the 2022 election. He competed in a Republican primary for the Alaska House of Representatives in 1994. Brelsford is a former Director of the Borough of Bristol Bay and the Town of Dillingham (acting). He is also a former CEO of the Aleutian Islands / Pribilof Associations, one of the state’s 12 regional tribal governing bodies. In addition, he served on the board of directors of the Alaska Federation of Natives. He now lives in Anchorage.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a wide range of views. To submit an item for consideration, send an email comment (at) adn.com. Send submissions under 200 words to [email protected] Where click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and comments here.