Republican state House of Representatives candidate Leslie Becker took to social media on Wednesday to explain a racially-charged post last year on a religious blog. It’s since been removed from the web. The self-described Christian conservative says she understands why some could be offended, but blamed her political opponents for trying to distract voters in her race to unseat Ketchikan independent Dan Ortiz.
Leslie Becker’s 2019 online writings were recently re-posted on Twitter by a former Ketchikan Republican state lawmaker, Kyle Johansen.
In a post from a year ago, Becker asks God to spur mining and timber development in Alaska Native communities. She writes: “New jobs will come to their communities and hearts will be lifted from alcoholism, drugs and despair.”
Irene Dundas is a former tribal president of Ketchikan Indian Community. She says she found the writings personally offensive.
“She clearly does not understand the Native community and what we feel about our natural resources,” she said in a phone interview. “The fish and the moose and the deer, the plants that we harvest for medicine — she doesn’t understand those things.”
Dundas isn’t the only person who takes exception to Becker’s religious writings.
“This is the kind of stuff that makes me cry,” said Ketchikan City Council Member Janalee Gage, who, like roughly 1 in 5 people in Ketchikan, has an Alaska Native background.
“I mean, I’m all for finding industry, but I’m not for going backwards. I’m certainly not for — just the attitude of we’re all a bunch of drunks, and we’re all a bunch of losers that don’t know what’s good for us,” she said. “I’m sorry — our Native community is very educated, very good people and they know their land.”
Two Borough Assembly members also decried the writings, including Austin Otos, who described the prayer as “disturbing” on Twitter, and Felix Wong.
“If we can’t be open to listening to people and truly understanding their concerns, and instead assign their opposition to some notion of ‘spiritual warfare’, then there can’t be any meaningful dialog between an elected representative and constituent. That’s not representation,” he wrote in part in a statement.
Becker declined to be interviewed for this story. After KRBD reached out for comment on her blog posts, which were circulating on social media, she took to Facebook with a three-paragraph statement. It says, in part, those writings were actually transcribed prayers as part of her organization Leslie Becker Ministries.
“Nothing in any prayer is ever meant to be offensive in any way to anyone,” she wrote.
The religious blog in several instances took overtly political stances. It decried the effort to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy. It also called for oil drilling in ANWR and offered support for the controversial Pebble Mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay.
The site solicits donations to Ark Animals Ministries, a nonprofit set up by Becker.
The statement posted Wednesday takes aim at her critics saying, “Unfortunately, some people are distracting from the issues and seeking every opportunity to find something negative in anything I say.”
Not so, says Irene Dundas.
“There’s no distracting anything with this letter. She’s distracting her own self,” she said. “That’s not no genuine apology.”
Reached for comment, incumbent independent Rep. Dan Ortiz didn’t want to be interviewed. He says the now-deleted writings speak for themselves.