Longtime Ketchikan High School teacher Dan Ortiz has filed to run as an independent candidate for state House. His name will be on the 2014 general election ballot for the House seat now held by Wrangell Republican Peggy Wilson.
Ortiz said he has thought about running for state office for many years, but didn’t want to make that time commitment while still raising young children. Now his youngest child is a senior in high school
“Now’s the time that I feel I can go away to Juneau and serve in the Legislature and not miss out on my family and my family obligations,” he said.
Ortiz is not affiliated with any political party, and said he believes partisan politics is getting in the way of progress at the national and state level.
“I hope to be a voice of mediation, and a voice truly representing the wishes of southern Southeast Alaska, not a political party,” he said.
Economic development is a big priority for Ortiz, and he said the state’s responsibility for that issue is making sure the infrastructure is in place to let the economy flourish. He specifically mentions power needs and transportation.
“You look at our ferry system here in Southeast Alaska, and I think the state needs to recommit to that system,” he said. “We’re always going to be a community of islands, and so in order for there to be commerce and in order for there to be access to goods and services cheaply, we’ve got to have a transportation system, and it’s got to be based on a ferry, there’s just no other way about it.”
The oil tax reform recently approved by the Legislature continues to be a topic of debate, and an initiative to repeal that reform will be on the 2014 state ballot. Ortiz said he believes that legislation rolled the taxes back too much, and he’s happy Alaska voters will be able to choose whether to keep or reject the measure.
“ If they’re supportive of it, and they think that’s a good decision with their vote and they voice that, well then I can say, ‘OK I can get behind that.’ I’m just really gratified that we get to have a voice in that process,” he said.
Ortiz teaches economics, U.S. history and debate at Ketchikan High School. He said he will not campaign until after the school year is done. He has applied for a leave-of-absence for the start of next school year to continue campaigning. If elected, he said he might ask for an extension of that leave or he might consider retiring.
The incumbent, Peggy Wilson, has filed her paperwork to run for re-election. She will face Ketchikan’s Glen Thompson in the Republican primary election next August.