School Board Member Faces Off Against Newcomer in Senate District H Primary
School Board Member Don Smith challenges Clint Hess for open seat
ANCHORAGE - It's an open state Senate seat in Midtown, and Republican voters have a choice between a familiar face and a fresh face.
Smith, a school board member and a former state representative and Anchorage Assemblyman, says he's better poised to take on Democratic Representative Berta Gardner in the fall.
"I think I’ve been outspoken. I think I’ve been willing to ask some serious questions, and I think I’ve demonstrated an ability to try to force the issues on things that are important to our community."
But although Hess says age isn't an issue, he is nearly 40 years younger than Smith.
"I feel that I’m looking forward a little bit more, and Don is looking back at some of the things he has done."
Hess, a financial analyst at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, is a political newcomer.
He says he's on his third pair of shoes from walking the district and knocking on doors, soliciting Republican votes in the primary.
"They have one option that has some experience and has been involved in government in the past. And they have the option in myself of some different perspective, coming from the private sector. I have the energy and the passion to go down to Juneau and try to help these long-term plans."
But Smith says while Hess is a nice guy, he doesn't have much to say.
"My knowledge of my opponent in the primary is that he's taking some fairly safe statements; he's not really focused on anything he's upset about or would do if he's elected."
With no known differences on issues, Hess and Smith are offering voters a choice of personalities and backgrounds.
The candidates agree that their needs to be a reduction in oil production taxes, but that it should be tied to exploration and development activity.
They differ on the concept of a bipartisan coalition in the Senate.
Smith says he would not join one.
Hess says he could, but says the current coalition has created a logjam in Juneau.