ELECTION 2018: District 12 primary candidates share thoughts

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 12:00

Two candidates are running unopposed in the August 21 primary elections — Staphany Jeffers, an undeclared candidate running in the Democratic primary, and incumbent Cathy Tilton in the Republican primary. Here are their answers to five questions posed by the Star earlier this year:



House District 12

Democratic Primary Candidate

Stephany Jeffers

Age: 33

Place of birth: Portland, OR

Hometown: I live in Chugiak (just one exit down from where I grew up).

Occupation: After completing a master’s degree in Biology and Wildlife from the University of Alaska Fairbanks I decided to run off and join the circus. I am the owner and instructor of Cirque Boreal, a small business in Eagle River that teaches the art of aerial acrobatics. I intend to eventually resume my career as a botanist/geneticist but am currently working to build the circus community in the Anchorage area.

Family: My dad, Michael Jeffers, was the music pastor at First Baptist Church of Birchwood (now the Crossing) for about 15 years, and he served as music pastor for a of couple years at Skyline Family Fellowship in Eagle River. My mother, Susie Jeffers, worked as a nurse at Providence when they lived in Alaska and directed the children’s musicals at the church. My parents have since moved to Arizona to take care of my grandmother, Dottie. My brother, Jason, works as a firefighter with AFD. My oldest sister, Bethany, is PA working with a neurosurgeon in Anchorage. My middle sister, Melody, works as a mental health professional and currently lives out of state. I have a grandpa, Toby, who lives in Anchorage with my uncle and cousins. And I currently live in Chugiak with my partner, Vijay, and my adorable puppy, Cali.

Previous public office held (if any): While I have been politically engaged, I have not been politically active. This will be my first time holding an elected public office. Although not publicly elected positions, I have served as Anchorage’s Sister City Ambassador to Chitose, Japan (2006) and the official hostess of the state of Alaska (2008).

What qualities make you the best candidate for the office you seek?

Drive. Passion. Creativity.

I think these are the qualities that will make me an excellent representative for Alaska state house. I also strongly believe that it is important for policies to be driven by facts and data rather than fear of what may be. I grew up in this district and it has changed significantly from the time I was a child. We can face these changes with fear and trepidation, or we can embrace the growth that is happening in our community and look forward to the future with anticipation.

Another important quality that I have as a candidate — I am able to have a conversation with someone with whom I disagree without automatically assuming they’re stupid or hateful. In this time of great animosity between the left and right I think it’s incredibly important. The people of Alaska come from a variety of places, backgrounds, and faiths. I believe that our different ideas add flavor and that diversity is an asset that makes us better as a community. A considerate, well-thought and well-argued debate between opposing sides is a healthy thing for our democracy… but we must start from a place of respect.

What is the most important issue currently facing Alaska and how would you address the issue in the Legislature?

I think the most crippling issue facing the Alaska Legislature is shortsightedness. For the last few years we have been so very focused on the immediate crisis that we have been unable to see beyond the next fiscal year. I hope to see more young people get involved in the political process for that reason. We need legislators that personally invested in the future of our state. Our current financial crisis is in large part because our state is a one trick pony tied to a single industry. As the world moves towards renewable energy we need to diversify our investments and encourage growth of other industries so that our state budget is not held hostage by the price of oil.

What (if anything) should be done to help improve the Alaska economy?

We must start diversifying. For too long now Alaska has been tied to a single industry for our economic health. It is essential that we broaden our investments and encourage growth of other industries in the state. With that said, we also need to make certain that the industries that are taking a foothold in Alaska have room to thrive. Our state has seen a boom in microbreweries and distilleries in the last few years, but there are currently members of our legislature that are trying to add stifling limitations to these new businesses. If elected, I will be a vocal advocate against any burdensome regulations that keep these businesses from growing and succeeding.

What (if anything) should the Legislature do to reduce crime in Alaska?

The rise in crime we have seen in our state is going to be a major talking point as we head towards this election. Our law enforcement agencies do a wonderful job but can always use more qualified applicants. While it is not a legislative action, it’s important for our officials to encourage folks to be actively engaged in making our communities stronger and apply.

We need to support the efforts of our local law enforcement agencies. We have seen spectacular recent successes with retail blitzes and more recent coordinated effort to take violent offenders off the streets. I support any way that we can facilitate more of those efforts, whether through funding or by providing additional personnel to aid in coordination.

And finally, I will continue to press for Alaska to end the backlog of untested rape kits. In states that are actively processing their rape kits, law enforcement officers have found that it is one of the most efficient uses of funds resulting in getting violent criminals off the street. Since 2015 we have seen major steps being taken, but if elected I will lend my full voice and support to see these efforts carried out to completion.

Do you agree with the Legislature’s decision to cap this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend at $1,600 and use a portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investment earnings for government services? Why or why not?

No one wants to see our dividends capped or gutted, but I think most Alaskans understand hard decisions are going to have to be made to pull us out of this current economic crisis. My biggest issues with the cap are that it is not a long-term solution and cutting in to the dividend hits those who make the least the hardest.

Republican Primary Candidate

Cathy L. Tilton

Age: 55

Place of birth: Maryland (family moved to Alaska prior to age 1 and have resided here since then)

Hometown: Wasilla

Occupation: Small business owner (real estate investment)

Family: Husband: Berkeley /Sons: Jordan, Tylor, Damian/ Mother: Kay /Father and Stepmother: Phil and Sherry (all currently reside in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough)

Previous public office held (if any): Current Representative for House District 12

What qualities make you the best candidate for the office you seek?

For 4 years prior to being elected, I served as a staff member for two different members of the Alaska Legislature as a committee aide for both the Legislative Council and the House Finance Committee. I have always been active in the community and continue to stay involved with all the community councils and senior centers in/around my district. I actively solicit input from ALL constituents in the district.

What is the most important issue currently facing Alaska and how would you address the issue in the Legislature?

The two most important issues are a comprehensive fiscal plan and crime. As a member of the Finance Committee I have actively worked to reduce the spending, sponsored a new constitutional spending limit and voted against new taxes and voted to protect the PFD. I will continue to do all those things and will reintroduce a new constitutional spending limit. Pertaining to crime, I voted against SB 91 and was the prime sponsor of the amendment to SB 54 that would have completely repealed SB 91. With the adoption of SB 54 and HB 312 an SB 91 repeal is far more complicated. I will work with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to continue making needed changes to our criminal code to ensure that our criminal justice system is not a “revolving door” and allow Alaskans greater flexibility for protecting their person and property.

What (if anything) should be done to help improve the Alaska economy?

Adopting a comprehensive fiscal plan with spending reductions and a strengthened constitutional spending limit should be the anchor of any efforts to improve our economy. We must maintain a stable tax structure for our partners in the petroleum and mining sectors. In addition, we need to review our regulatory structure and revise or eliminate regulations that impede (unnecessarily) new business startups and new investment in Alaska. We should also continue our efforts to review occupational/professional licensing requirements needing to be modernized or eliminated.

What (if anything) should the Legislature do to reduce crime in Alaska?

Improving Alaska’s economy is a core component to reducing crime. Granted, improving the economy and creating more jobs won’t solve the issue but will have a positive effect. We must continue to revise problematic provisions of SB 91. Further, we should expand the community patrol program that has proven especially effective in MOA. Looking at the efforts of NYC in the late 90’s and their adoption of the “broken window” theory of policing will likely yield some useful revisions to how we conduct law enforcement activities in Alaska.

Do you agree with the Legislature’s decision to cap this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend at $1,600 and use a portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investment earnings for government services? Why or why not?

I do not and have voted against every effort to reduce dividends. I have pledged that I will not support new taxes or reductions to the dividend unless/until we reduce spending to a sustainable level—and even then, only as necessity dictates. When I say “reductions”, I’m not talking about creative accounting but real reductions. One reason a new constitutional spending limit is an essential component of any comprehensive fiscal plan I could support is not only that it would actually reduce spending from current levels but because it would be a contract with Alaskans for fiscal restraint. In talking with constituents and Alaskans from around the state, I’ve heard a greater willingness (not unqualified acceptance) to accept a new broad-based tax or a dividend reduction if there is some meaningful protection in place.

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