The Calista Public Advocacy and Engagement Committee (PAEC) invited each candidate who would represent constituents in the YK Region to interview with the committee and submit written responses to a candidate questionnaire. PAEC members evaluated each candidate on several key issues of importance to the Region. Criteria included candidates’ level of support, understanding and familiarity with the Region and their alignment with PAEC priorities.

Issues of importance to the committee included showing support for Native candidates, the candidate engaging in the PAEC endorsement process, supporting the Donlin Gold project and demonstrating support for a full statutory PFD. 

For State legislative races, PAEC was unable to finalize endorsements because not all candidates provided written responses to the questionnaire. Only three candidates (all of whom were incumbents) completed interviews. However, in the interest of providing information to Calista’s shareholders, PAEC’s scoring of the candidates who did interview and submit written responses is being made public. PAEC used four weighted areas to determine the overall score. Below is the methodology used to evaluate each candidate. Candidates who did not interview with the committee and failed to provide written responses to the candidate questionnaire were not evaluated, per committee policy.

Scoring

  1. Candidate Engagement:
    • Did the candidate Interview?  Yes = 1 star
    • Did the candidate provide written responses to the questionnaire? Yes = ½ star
    • Is the candidate Alaska Native?  Yes = ½ star
  2. PFD:
    • Does the candidate support a full statutory PFD? Yes = 1 star
  3. Donlin:
    • Does the candidate support the Calista Donlin project to create jobs & infrastructure in the Region? Yes = 1 star
  4. Ballot Measures:
    • Measure One (oil tax): No = ½ star
    • Measure Two (elections): No = ½ star

5 stars = Excellent! Understands and clearly supports PAEC priority issues.

4 stars = Very Good. Some room for improvement or needs to clarify positions.

3 stars = Pass.  Room for improvement, understanding, or support of PAEC priority issues.

2 stars = Needs improvement. Lack of understanding or support of PAEC priority issues.

1 star = Fail. Shows no understanding or complete lack of support for PAEC priority issues.

I (not evaluated) = Incomplete. No support, statement, or engagement with PAEC process.

Senate District T
Sen. Donny Olson (D-Incumbent)

Engagement

Senator Olson interviewed with the committee, but did not provide written comments.  He is an Alaska Native incumbent candidate from his Region.

PFD

Senator Olson voted to support paying out a full statutory PFD and believes it is a violation of law not to pay Alaskans a full statutory PFD and back payments.  He supports paying an emergency and early PFD.

Donlin

“If a large project (like Donlin) helps create rural infrastructure and helps the people, I support it. If the people want it, I will support it, if they do not, I will not.”

Ballot Measures

Ballot Measure 1 (oil tax) – “Having been in Juneau and seeing record high oil revenues, I support Ballot Measure 1, even though it is not well written and is confusing, it got on the ballot through a hostile political process.”

Ballot Measure 2 (elections) – “The good part of Ballot Measure 2 is to find out where all the campaign money is coming from.  The initiative would allow people to know where the money is coming from – the outside Alaska interests.”

Note: Challenger Calvin Moto (R) was scheduled to interview but was a no show and did not submit responses to the PAEC committee.  Under the rules of the PAEC endorsement process he was not evaluated as a candidate.

House District 38
Rep. Neal Foster (D-Incumbent)

Engagement

Representative Foster provided written responses to the committee and interviewed.  He is an Alaska Native incumbent candidate from his Region.

PFD

Representative Foster did not vote to pay out a full statutory PFD. He voted against paying out a full PFD due to potential cuts to critical rural programs. After a close primary, he changed course and now supports paying a full statutory PFD and back payments. Representative Foster received only a half point on this issue because of his last vote.  We anticipate his next vote on the PFD will increase his score.

“I support increasing (the PFD) from the $1,000 that was paid out earlier this year to about $3,000 (the statutory formula).  I also support paying the back PFD’s, which equate to about $6,800 per person.  The primary election in August was largely a referendum on the size of the PFD, and the people showed their support for a full PFD via their vote. We are elected to carry out the wishes of the electorate.”

“Not only do I support an emergency PFD but on September 8, 2020 I sent a formal request to the Governor asking him to call the legislature back into special session to pay another PFD.  I would like to see about $2,000 paid in addition to the nearly $1,000 paid this past July.”

Donlin

Representative Foster said he “would like to see the Donlin mine in operation and provide a high percentage of jobs to local residents while at the same time garnering more regional support.  I understand there is some disagreement about the mine, and I am hopeful that Donlin can continue to do outreach to win back some of the support it once had.  The benefits of jobs and infrastructure are undoubtedly important as seen at NANA with Red Dog and the Arctic Slope with oil. Sometimes opponents of certain projects try to get involved politically.  I have always advocated for allowing the science and the process that is in place to have a chance to work its way through.”

Ballot Measures

Ballot Measure 1 (oil tax) Wants to see a strong and healthy oil industry. (Oil companies) “provide a large share of state revenue and thousands of jobs. In that sense I oppose the initiative.” If asked to choose between a full PFD or tax credits for oil companies, Representative Foster said would have to support the initiative to help get a full PFD.

Ballot Measure 2 (elections) – “I likely will not decide until the election. There are pros and cons on both sides. I like that ranked choice voting creates a more moderate legislature. Currently the Republican Primary is closed, and this tends to favor far right conservatives. Plus, ranked choice voting is good in that it discourages gerrymandering (bad for Rural Alaska). On the flip side it seems like a lot of folks are still confused about how it works.”

Note: Challenger Dan Holmes (R) was unable to interview due to a work commitment and did not submit responses to the PAEC committee.  Under the rules of the PAEC endorsement process he was not evaluated as a candidate.

House District 37
Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Incumbent)

Engagement

Representative Zulkosky provided written responses to the committee and interviewed.  She is an Alaska Native incumbent candidate from her Region.

PFD

Representative Zulkosky supports paying as large of a PFD as possible that does not increase the cost of living in rural communities and does not diminish sustainability or viability of the PFD and prioritizes delivery of essential rural services. She voted against paying out a full statutory PFD due to proposed cuts to critical rural programs such as the PCE, VPSO, Medicaid, Public Assistance and TANF. She supported paying out an early PFD.

Donlin

Representative Zulkosky does not support the Donlin project.

Ballot Measures

Representative Zulkosky said, “I am often asked to publicly endorse or speak about ballot initiatives, but I choose to keep my positions between me and the ballot box.”

Note: Challenger Willy Keppel (VP) declined to interview and did not submit responses to the PAEC committee. Under the rules of the PAEC endorsement process he was not evaluated as a candidate.