Primary hot seat: Mud flies in South Anchorage race
Ross Bieling and Jennifer Johnston are digging up dirt on each other in one of the Alaska primary election‘s most contentious races. The two are fighting for State House in District 28, which stretches from South Anchorage to Bear Valley, plus it includes Girdwood.
Johnston is a former Anchorage Assembly member, and Bieling, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, runs a Florida-based medical bidding service. Bieling is running on a platform of implementing a bidding program for medical services in Alaska, for which his company would be a contender.
Bieling pushes himself as a problem solver with an ad that plays to the “Ghostbusters” theme song:
“When paranormal political spending is haunting the Alaska economy, who you gonna call? Ross Bieling!”
Bieling promises to shrink the budget and wants to bring in Outside consultants to do it.
“Whatever we end up paying someone would be dynamos, the rate of growth is eating our state alive,” Bieling said.
“Her years as a politician gave us a skyrocketing school budget that doesn’t deliver results,” his radio ad says of Johnston.
Both Bieling and Johnston agree they’d rather see a sales tax than Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed income tax. But when it comes to using PFD money, Bieling won’t take a stance yet. Johnston says she’s being more realistic.
“Yes, the permanent fund, we should be using it,” Johnston said, adding that she supports SB 128, passed by the state senate last spring, because it includes a cap on the amount of money that can be drawn from the fund’s earnings.
After serving nine years on the assembly, Johnston said, she knows how to balance a budget.
“I did it on the assembly,” Johnston stated. “We had major financial problems in 2009, and one of the first things we did is we re-opened labor contracts, that hasn’t been done yet.”
Johnston questions Bieling for spending twice a legislator’s salary on his own campaign.
“Ross Bieling is trying to buy his way to power, so far he’s put over $100,000 into his negative campaign,” her radio ad says.
“I don’t see where she’s a problem solver. She hasn’t solved any problems,” Bieling lashed back.
Johnston says Bieling hasn’t seen much of her work because he’s only lived full-time in Alaska since November of 2012.
“If he’d been here while I was on the assembly, and lived in the district, he would have actually seen a lot of stuff that I did,” Johnston said.
The race for State House in District 28 has become one of the messiest this primary season. The finish line is just days away.
There is a democrat also reaching for the seat. Shirley Coté will also be on the ballot in November.
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