This year’s elections have yet to happen, but some candidates already are thinking about next year. Incumbent state Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell filed for re-election a couple of months ago, and Ketchikan’s Glen Thompson filed his letter of intent Thursday to oppose Wilson in the Republican primary.
Thompson is on his third term as an elected member of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly. He will finish that term in 2014, and because of term limits would not be able to run for re-election to that post.
Thompson said he’s considered running for state office for a couple of years.
“Last year, there was three people in the race before I got around to deciding what I wanted to do, and I decided that was enough,” he said. “So I’ve been thinking about is again this year. I did a little polling of colleagues, and folks around there and everybody told me that would be a tremendous idea.”
Thompson said Ketchikan needs strong representation in Juneau, and he’s well aware of the community’s needs. He said the other communities in the newly formed district share similar issues.
“One of my primary concerns is local school funding,” he said. “The borough has been on that for several years and we really haven’t gotten a lot of traction in Juneau for that. I do believe that we’re going to have to get Anchorage and Fairbanks into the mix to gain any traction, but we can certainly start that conversation.”
Other issues Thompson mentioned is strong support for the Alaska Marine Highway System, and for Gov. Sean Parnell’s proposal for the federal government to transfer ownership of 2 million acres of the Tongass National Forest to the state.
Wilson said she is not concerned about competition in the primary.
“That is not anything new to me,” she said. “Every time I run, I have somebody that runs against me. I just look at it as another challenge and proceed the way I always do.”
Wilson said she wants to continue as the House representative because there are numerous projects she would like to finish up. She said she’s excited about economic opportunities for the area, such as mining projects and growth in Ketchikan’s shipyard. She cited the oil tax reform bill as a major accomplishment during the last session, calling it a step toward encouraging oil production. But, she said, a citizen initiative to repeal that tax has put any benefits from the bill on hold.
“Until this is settled, I don’t think we’ll see a whole lot of change,” she said. “There will be some change, but if it goes back the way it was, we’re not going to see much growth. We need more oil production. The people with the initiative, they say, ‘We’re going to lose all this money, we’re throwing away state money.’ If you don’t get the money to begin with, you can’t throw it away.”
Wilson said oil production is down, and the only factor saving the state’s budget is the current high price of oil. Other big issues she mentioned include the aging fleet of Alaska Marine Highway System ferries, support for various industries, and her push to create a state transportation fund.
Next year’s primary election is August 19.