Margaret Stock (Photo by Leila Kheiry)

Margaret Stock (Photo by Leila Kheiry)

An independent candidate running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Lisa Murkowski was in Ketchikan last week for the Blueberry Arts Festival. Margaret Stock is an Anchorage attorney specializing in immigration issues, and she’s a veteran of the U.S. Army.

In a campaign video on her website, Margaret Stock wields a chainsaw to cut through a tug-of-war rope representing gridlock in Washington, D.C.

Stock said what she’s hearing from Alaskans is frustration with that gridlock. Without ties to a specific party, she – with perhaps other independents – hopes to make a difference.

How? Well, Stock has been endorsed by the Centrist Project.

“It’s a national organization that’s trying to elect more independent candidates to the United States Senate,” she said. “Their theory is, if they get enough independents into the Senate, they’re going to have an independent caucus, and the independent caucus can be an honest power broker between the two parties.”

That’s a long-range goal, though. In the short term, if elected, Stock said she still could have influence as a swing vote, because of how closely the Senate is divided.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in November, but conceivably, as an independent, I could be the power broker in the United States Senate,” she said.

Stock was a high school dropout back East, but with the help of a high school guidance counselor and her foster family, she was able to attend college, and enlisted in the ROTC, later serving active duty in the military police at Fort Richardson in Alaska.

Following her Army service, Stock earned her law degree at Harvard, and then worked as a private attorney in Anchorage while continuing to serve in the Army Reserve.

Stock said she’s represented businesses and corporations throughout the state. She represented Sealaska in a timber dispute, for example, but she’s known for her work on immigration and citizenship.

Stock won a McArthur Fellowship in 2013, commonly referred to as a “genius grant.” SheNews Tile said she used the money from that grant to pay for legal services for veterans the U.S. government was trying to deport.

“It distresses me that the U.S. government deports honorably discharged military veterans,” she said. “They’re not citizens, they’re green card holders, typically, and they joined the military but they didn’t get their citizenship while they were in the military. So, after they get out of the military, sometimes the government comes along and tries to deport them.”

Stock said she’s had success preventing some veterans from getting deported, but hasn’t yet been able to reverse the deportation of other veterans.

Stock said the majority of people in the U.S. recognize that the nation’s immigration laws are broken.

“Most Americans, if you poll them, think that we should fix our immigration system,” she said. “Most Americans think that anyone who’s lived in the US for a really long time, who speaks English, doesn’t have a criminal record, pays taxes, should be able to come out of the shadows and get some sort of legal status.”

Stock said there’s a pretty easy way to start fixing immigration laws: Update a current law that allows anyone who has lived here since 1972 to remain by simply changing the specified year.

“If they could give some sort of legal status – not citizenship, but something short of that – to the folks that are here who are behaving themselves, then that would free up our government resources to go after the bad guys: The terrorists and the criminals who threaten our public safety,” she said.

Stock said Sen. Lisa Murkowski hasn’t been able to accomplish much for Alaska. And, Stock said, with state finances in poor shape due to low oil revenue, help from the federal government will be required to maintain services and bolster Alaska’s economy.

“The ferry system: The ferries are the highways of Alaska and there should be federal money to get the ferry system moving and keep that lifeline for Southeast Alaska going,” she said. “We have issues involving resources that need to be resolved, and the federal government is going to have to get involved in a lot of that: Fisheries and mining. We need to diversify our economy and our energy resources.”

On timber, Stock said she would push for the federal government to cooperate with the State of Alaska to manage the forest and make sure the resource remains for future harvests. She said there’s a potential market for some second-growth trees as, for example, totem poles for export.

Stock said she is fiscally conservative and believes in a strong national defense. She was a Republican for many years before becoming non-affiliated. Stock said she believes in older Republican values, including personal freedom and limited government, and in all the rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.

“One of the things I do believe is that people should have personal privacy and individual rights to live their lives without the government telling them every day what they should be doing,” she said. “That makes me socially tolerant, I think, because there are folks out there who believe that the government should tell people in their daily life what they should be doing; that the government should be telling women what they should be doing with their bodies and the government should be making health decisions for women.”

Stock taught Constitutional and national security law at West Point, and also spearheaded a program that recruited legal immigrants to work for the government as sorely needed translators.

“A lot of them are highly educated. They’re people who came to the United States and got college degrees at MIT and Harvard and the University of Alaska, and they can’t get green cards because the legal immigration system is broken,” she said. “But once they complete their college education in the United States, we’re letting them join the military. They have to sign up for an eight-year tour of duty, but they get their citizenship through military service.”

Stock said some of her recruits for that program are competing in the Summer Olympics. They are U.S. citizens of Kenyan descent, serving in the military and running to represent the United States.

While she’s running against a well-known, well-funded incumbent – if Lisa Murkowski wins the Aug. 16 primary, that is — Stock said that she believes her chances of winning the race are good. She said the majority of Alaskans are nonaffiliated, like her, and frustration with the status quo in Washington, D.C., has many people looking for options.

Stock will be among the candidates listed on the November 8 ballot.