Three people are running for the House District 36 seat. We had earlier reports on incumbent Dan Ortiz and his Republican challenger Bob Sivertsen. And on Friday, KRBD’s Leila Kheiry sat down with Constitution Party candidate Ken Shaw.
Here’s a summary of the conversation.
Kenneth Shaw moved to Southeast Alaska with his family about 15 years ago from Tennessee.
When asked what hat brought him here, Shaw said, “Mountains, ocean, wilderness. It’s the only place in the U.S. that’s got it all. We’re an adventurous family. We like the boonies.”
Shaw is a carpenter by trade, but said that while his wife goes to school and works as a nurse, he is homeschooling their children – an important full-time job that he takes seriously.
He also takes his politics seriously. He was a Republican for many years,
“But over the past few years, I felt the Republican Party was getting too much about party and not enough about people, so I switched to the Constitution Party a few years ago.”
As the name suggests, the Constitution Party bases its values on the U.S. Constitution, and the need to adhere to that document.
“Some of the major issues like right to life and people’s liberties and freedoms, they’re staunch advocates. They’re not giving up. Whereas the big parties now, it just depends on which way the wind’s blowing.”
It’s a national party, and Shaw said he believes it’s growing. He said he decided to run for state House because he wants to take the government back to what it’s supposed to be doing. He said most in the Legislature have lost touch with that.
Shaw said the first task is for the government to admit it has a spending problem.
“Everyone — and my two opponents especially — are really trying to get people convinced that there is no way to fix the budget short of more taxes or dipping into the PFD.”
Shaw said he doesn’t believe taxes are required; the state needs to cut instead. He said there are many programs that are nice to have, but aren’t necessary.
Shaw mentioned the Department of Health and Social Services as one area he would look at for cuts.
“Preferably without cutting anything that’s what most people would consider really important. We need some of these programs, don’t get me wrong, but there is a good bit of waste and abuse there.”
Shaw said education is another area that could see some cuts. He said there’s too much spent on management and not enough on teaching. Shaw lays some of that blame on federal oversight, and said there could be a lot of money saved if the federal government got out of the picture.
Shaw said one reason he homeschools his kids is to minimize government influence in his children’s education.
“The government has no business as far as I’m concerned in what my kids learn at school. You’re supposed to teach them this: ABCs, reading, writing, arithmetic, yadda, yadda. It’s gotten so political anymore that there’s a lot of things taught in school that I don’t think should be.”
One example Shaw gave was sex education. He said that’s something parents should teach, not the government.
And then, Shaw said, there are areas that he feels should be taught and aren’t – or aren’t enough.
“I’d like to see them get back to a very basic understanding of our country, our forefathers, how our country actually came to be what it is. I think they’re slacking on a lot of those things. There’s not a lot of discussion of the Constitution, like there used to be. Little things, or some people consider them little things, like the Pledge of Allegiance in classes.”
On oil taxes, Shaw agrees that the state’s current formula should be reformed. He believes the incentives are too high.
“I don’t think we need to spend quite as much money or extend such large credits, necessarily. Especially now, with the crisis that we’re in, it is insane to be promising people so much money when we don’t have it to spend.”
Shaw said the state also should extend reasonable incentives to other industries, such as mining, fisheries and timber, to help expand the state’s economic base.
If elected, Shaw said he likely would try to caucus with the Republicans, because he doesn’t think the Democrats would want him. But, he said he wouldn’t vote for anything that goes against his principles.
“The most they can do with me is put me in the basement at the Legislature. I’ll still have a vote. I guess that’s the difference: I’m not worried about the repercussions.”
Shaw admits that his chance of winning is pretty low, and he believes some staunch Republicans are not pleased with him for running. Shaw said they think he’ll take votes away from Republican candidate Bob Sivertsen, and he understands their concern.
But, Shaw said there are many people who want a choice, and that’s what he’s providing. And, he said, whether or not he wins the election, he’s spreading the message of the Constitution Party.
“It’s already a victory, as far as I’m concerned. The Constitution Party got its name on the ballot this year. That’s a first as far as I know, for this district.”
The Constitution Party also has a presidential nominee on the ballot, and Shaw said he will be casting his vote for Darrell Castle.
An interesting side note: Shaw’s son, Trevor Shaw, is the chair of the House District 36 Republican Party, which supports Sivertsen in this race. Ken Shaw said that hasn’t caused too much strife in the family.
Here’s a link to last week’s report on the other two House District 36 candidates.