Hot Seat: Mike Gordon and Harriet Drummond for House District 18
A well-known Spenard area businessman hopes his popularity helps him take over an Alaska House seat that hasn’t been red in nearly a decade.
If money is an indication in this race, then Mike Gordon has an advantage.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Gordon raised $158,000 this campaign cycle. That’s the fourth most of all state House and Senate candidates, and nearly double the $88,000 that opponent, and incumbent, Harriet Drummond raised.
Gordon is one of those people who can’t sit still. He retired last year, but won’t stop moving.
“You can do one thing and make people mad and do another and make the other half mad or do nothing and make everyone mad,” Gordon said.
According to Gordon, he’s mad at the Legislature. He says the state’s spending is out of control and lawmakers are doing nothing to stop it.
“They took the savings and kicked the can down the road,” Gordon said. “While that’s going on, we’re squandering capitol and wasting time.”
The former owner of Chilkoot Charlie’s has a long history of public service. He was on the city council and borough assembly before they merged in 1974. He’s lived in the district since he was 10.
“We’re at a stage (where) we need to make hard choices; I can do that,” Gordon said.
He is running as a Republican, but says that’s only because he wants to be in the majority so he can get something done. His fiscal plan centers on budget cuts. Gordon refuses to consider any other options until that happens. He has at least one idea of what he would do.
“We’re one of the very few states that pay 100 percent of state employee’s medical expenses,” he said, adding that if state employees paid 10 percent of their insurance, Alaska would save $60 million a year.
Drummond agrees more cuts are in order, but says they have to be done carefully.
“If there’s any more cuts to be made, I think it needs to happen surgically, not meat cleaver style,” she said.
Like her opponent, Drummond also has a long history in office; first on the school board, then on the Anchorage Assembly and now four years in Juneau. She admits that last session didn’t go well.
“We didn’t accomplish very much. There was an awful lot of waiting around,” Drummond said.
But despite that frustration, Drummond says being an incumbent is her biggest asset.
“Because I’ve got the relationships in place that will allow me to hit the ground running,” she explained.
Drummond hopes to pass a long-term budget solution next session. The biggest part of her plan is to restructure the permanent fund. Small cuts are also on the table, as well as an income tax.
“It’s important to realize there’s around 50,000 people that are from out of state that earn their livings here and take their earnings home and they pay no taxes to the State of Alaska,” Drummond said.
According to Drummond, everyone in Alaska will feel the pain. She thinks lawmakers should set the tone.
“Legislators who don’t live in Juneau get to ship their cars to Juneau in January and ship them back again in May. That’s crazy,” she said.
Drummond says a more economical option would be to have lawmakers rent cars when they get to Juneau.
Both candidates agree that reducing the deficit won’t be easy. Spenard voters will decide who gets to make the hard choices.
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