By Adam Wool
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, June 30, 2022
With so much polarization and division in politics today, I hark back to when I was first elected in 2014. Another new leader also came to Juneau that year to begin his political career, and his name was Bill Walker.
One of the things I noticed about Bill was his practice of including many groups into his sphere. This happened at the cabinet level, which included people of all political stripes, and when making big decisions he also included both majority and minority caucuses in the House and Senate. Democrats, Republicans and independents all had a voice.
Fast forward to 2019 when Mike Dunleavy became governor. Rather than pulling people into the decision making process and respecting people with different viewpoints, Dunleavy’s default position is to cut out anyone who’s on the wrong side of the partisan line. The only one-on-one discussion I’ve had directly with Dunleavy during his term was on an airplane because we happened to be sitting next to each other. The contrast between the two administrations is remarkable, like night and day.
Bill understands that the best way to advance solutions for Alaska is to talk to both sides and see where they are on certain issues. Even if you don’t agree with their position, you’re better off in the end to hear people’s perspectives and incorporate some aspects of their views in the final product to get policies across the finish line. The current administration has a top down, my-way-or the-highway approach, and it hasn’t worked for the people of Alaska.
Heidi Drygas also understands the value of compromise. When she was commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, I was co-chair of the House Labor and Commerce Committee. We didn’t always agree, but we were able to discuss the differences and see where each other was coming from. Compromise often was reached.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the Walker administration — the passage of Senate Bill 26 — happened directly because of their collaborative approach. SB26 made it so our budget and the Permanent Fund will remain sustainable, and capable of paying for teachers, troopers, and transportation for generations.
The bill passed with support of Democrats, Republicans and independents and was truly a bipartisan bill that reflected the effort needed to pass such important legislation.
Over the next four years, we need more collaboration and inclusion rather than continued division and polarity. That’s why I’m supporting the Walker-Drygas ticket for governor and lieutenant governor this fall.