On Wednesday, Neal Lacy, Democratic candidate for District 10 of the Alaska House of Representatives, discussed the race, the legislature, and his vision for the future of the state. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more.
There are three candidates running for District 10 of the Alaska House. Democrat Neal Lacy and independent Roger Purcell are both attempting to unseat the incumbent, Republican Wes Keller. Neal Lacy was in Talkeetna on Wednesday for Su-Valley Voice, KTNA’s public affairs program.
Neal Lacy has lived in the Mat-Su since 1975. He is a mechanic by trade, as well as a former Mat-Su Borough School District teacher and school board member. During the show, he laid out his political platform.
“First of all, we need a gas line, and we do not need Susitna Hydro. We need a sustainable tax structure that does not leave the citizens out. Alaska’s Constitution says that natural resources should be developed for the benefit of its citizens, and that’s the way we need to have the tax structure.
“As far as equal rights, I think that the legislature, pretty much, has waged a war on women. We need affordable healthcare. Women need to be able to get affordable healthcare, and some of the things they did last year were, quite frankly, ill-placed….
“We need to have an expansion of Medicaid to get those people that cannot get health insurance–there’s about 40,000 of them who are not insured in the state of Alaska, and we need to have affordable healthcare for all our residents.”
Given his background with Mat-Su schools, its unsurprising that Neal Lacy says education funding is important. He says the current year-to-year method of school funding made it difficult for him, as a school board member, to make financial plans for the district.
“We need to have something stable because, as a school board member, we don’t know what our budget’s going to be until the borough passes one in the late summer, and then you have to make decisions in a hurry. The way they’re doing it now is bad.”
Resource development is another major issue in Alaska. Neal Lacy says he’s in favor of development, but only when done responsibly. He points to the contamination by the Flint Hills refinery in North Pole as an example of what not to do.
“Back when they built that thing, a smart thing would have done is to excavate the entire area out, line it, put monitor wells in it, then build that refinery over the top of it. They didn’t do that. People probably would have thought that was crazy talk. Well, now we look and say, ‘Maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.'”
Lacy says that he believes the State of Alaska is giving too much money to corporations, which contributes to the current levels of statewide deficit spending. He says one of his priorities, if elected, would be to curb what he calls “corporate handouts.”
“We’re giving away money to entities that don’t need it. Refineries, tax credits–if you’re in business, and you have a business model, you should be able to make a profit without any government handouts.”
Neal Lacy says that the state’s new oil tax regime, put in place by Senate Bill 21 last year, is part of that problem. That’s why he says he’ll be voting in favor of the ballot referendum to go back to the old tax system. Lacy also says he’ll be voting in favor of Ballot Measure 2, which would regulate marijuana in the state in a similar fashion to alcohol. He is also supporting Ballot Measure 3, which would increase the minimum wage, though he says he would like to see the minimum wage ultimately raised to $12 an hour and adjusted for inflation.
With regard to the Upper Valley, Neal Lacy says roads and infrastructure would be high on his list of priorities. Also, he says he would immediately start working to remove funding from the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. Lacy says he believes those funds are better spent elsewhere.
“I think that’s throwing good money after bad. We studied this in the eighties. They found out it was bad. I don’t remember how much they spent on it then. Now, we spend another $200 million more. This is money that could be put into infrastructure, schools, a number of different things.”
Neal Lacy could be facing a tough race. The Mat-Su is largely regarded as conservative, and there are currently six Republicans in the state House from the Valley. Neal Lacy says it hasn’t always been that way.
“The Valley, when I was a young man, was pretty much all Democratic, and I’d like to bring that back. We’ve had some excellent Democratic legislators: Katie Hurley, Jay Kerttula….I think I’m going to win this race.”
Neal Lacy’s last campaign was for re-election to the Mat-Su School Board last year. He was defeated by challenger Donna Dearman of Talkeetna in a close race. Prior to that, he won his school board seat in 2010, and in 2006 mounted a campaign against Vic Kohring for the state legislature. Lacy had to leave that race after taking a job with the State of Alaska. In retrospect, he says he thinks he could have beaten Kohring, who was later convicted of corruption in the wake of the VECO scandal.
Neal Lacy has no primary opponent, so will advance to the general election on November 4th. You can hear the full hour of Su-Valley Voice with Neal Lacy online at KTNA.org.