We’re ranking Walker/Drygas No. 1. Here’s why.

Luke Hopkins, Beth Kerttula, Stephen McAlpine, Mike Navarre and Mike Szymanski

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, November 5

‘Vote your values” is something we hear time and time again. As former Democratic leaders from across Alaska, that’s exactly what we will do in this election by ranking Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas No. 1 for governor and lieutenant governor. If you also place a value on new leadership in Alaska, we urge you to join us. Here’s why.

Electability matters. Alaska is an increasingly moderate state, and the only ticket that can win is one that ignites a coalition made up of people on the right, the left and everywhere in between. The Independent unity ticket of Walker, a former Republican, and Drygas, a former Democrat, does exactly that.

Bill’s experience with resource development and his fiscally prudent approach to state finances draws support from the right. At the same time, both Bill and Heidi are recognized for their strong support for unions, reproductive freedom, and equality for LGBTQ Alaskans, drawing progressive support.

Functionally, if Bill and Heidi earn fewer first-place votes than the Democratic ticket in the race, they will be eliminated, and a sizable portion of their second-place votes will go to Mike Dunleavy, pushing him beyond the 50% threshold to win re-election. How do we know? Poll after poll shows this scenario playing out in this fashion. But if the Walker/Drygas ticket places second, they will pull nearly all of the second-place votes from the Gara/Cook ticket, placing them on a path to defeat the incumbent in the final round.

Why do we need Bill and Heidi? There is much more at stake in this election than party loyalty. This governor has already gone after Alaska’s seniors, subsistence fisheries, ferries, universities and K-12 education, to name a few. Up next is women’s rights and more of the failed leadership he demonstrated over the past four years that has impacted each of us in some way.

On the other hand, we’ve witnessed the ingenuity and progress that takes place when we assemble people from regions across Alaska and diverse political backgrounds to collectively tackle problems facing the state, as occurred in the Walker administration. As former lawmakers, mayors and state leaders, we know the tremendous value of collaboration. We have to be agile and work across party lines to bring all stakeholders to the table and accomplish the work before us.

Bill and Heidi are particularly skilled at building consensus and creating diverse and dynamic coalitions. This is evidenced by the impressive list of endorsements the campaign has garnered from prominent Republicans, Democrats and independents from across Alaska. From former Gov. Frank Murkowski, a Republican, to former Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, a Democrat, a diverse group of Alaskans clearly agrees that we need a governor who understands our state, isn’t afraid to lead, and has Alaska’s best interests at the core of every decision while in office.

We can’t afford four more years of a governor who doesn’t show up, skips debates and avoids communities, has questionable ethics, and governs based on what is best for his political party rather than the good of Alaska. As one example, Dunleavy agreed to not endorse Sen. Lisa Murkowski in exchange for an endorsement from the former president who is campaigning against her. Under Dunleavy, Alaska is ranked dead last in infrastructure, and he cannot even give Murkowski credit for her leadership in the passage of the federal infrastructure bill that will bring billions to Alaska if aggressively pursued.

Dunleavy’s extreme party politics are hurting Alaskans. Bill and Heidi don’t answer to a political party. Rather, their platform is centered around the needs and values of all Alaskans. They have a comprehensive education plan that would create stability, sustainability, and predictability for school funding. They will continue to pursue low-cost energy and responsible development of Alaska’s resources. They will grow the Permanent Fund so that it continues to provide for generations to come, and they will invest in our communities.

We are proud to count ourselves among the many Alaskans who are longtime members of established political parties but are stepping out to support a strong nonpartisan team. Walker Drygas is our best chance at an immediate course correction, but it will take all of us making the right choice by November 8.

Please join us and rank Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas No. 1.

Stephen McAlpine of Anchorage served as lieutenant governor under two governors, from 1982-1990. Luke Hopkins of Fairbanks was mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough from 2009 to 2015. Mike Navarre of Kenai was a representative from 1984 to 1996 and he has served three terms as mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Beth Kerttula of Juneau was a representative from 1999 to 2014, including four terms as Democratic Minority leader. Mike Szymanski of Big Lake was a representative from 1982 to 1986 and a senator from 1987 to 1991.