Press Release: Gara, Walker speak out against Dunleavy’s decision to run from questions

‘Dunleavy’s plan this election cycle is to hide from talking about his failed tenure’

ANCHORAGE — Today, Mike Dunleavy announced that he will not respond to media questionnaires during the campaign and will insult the public with silence instead of answers during this election. 

As the media tries to help Alaskans understand the views of various candidates, Dunleavy is refusing to participate in this part of the public education process, and he has also skipped every single candidate debate. Declining to answer written questions submitted to all gubernatorial candidates by the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Beacon ignores a standard part of the campaign process that helps voters know where candidates stand.

“The public deserves a governor who steps up and says what they’ll do if they’re elected, not one who hides their views,” gubernatorial candidates Les Gara and Bill Walker said in a joint statement. “Dunleavy is disrespecting Alaskans by hiding his views. While we have our differences, we agree the public has a right to know where candidates stand and what they’ll do if elected.”

“Voters have every right to see how each candidate responds to these critical issues facing Alaska,” added Walker, an Independent candidate running alongside Heidi Drygas. “He is continuing the pattern of ducking and hiding he perfected in the last election by not showing up for debates and events where he would be required to interact with the public and the media. To refuse to participate is ignoring the Alaskans he serves, and that’s just wrong.”

“This governor has a lot to hide from. He can’t defend his attempted quarter-billion dollar cut to public education, his lack of commitment to public education, and his harm to an economy that’s caused 20,000 more people to leave Alaska than move here,” added Gara. “In his first three years, he averaged a $1,230 PFD because he refused to offer a way to fund a larger one, and you can expect he’ll violate his PFD promises again, continue to damage our schools, and shortchange a construction and community project budget that should put people to work. He’ll continue putting Outside corporate interests ahead of Alaskans who subsistence, commercial, and sportfish. His silence means he’ll continue to let Outside factory trawlers waste tons of Alaska halibut and salmon.” 

Walker continued, “Clearly, Dunleavy’s plan this election cycle is to hide from talking about his failed tenure and to distract from what he would do with another term: enact his true vision for Alaska, slashing and burning institutions that took generations to build up like Pioneer Homes, the Alaska Marine Highway System, K-12 schools, and the University of Alaska.”

“I’m proud to tell people how I’ll improve our schools and put people back to work. I’m proud to show how getting a fair share for Alaska’s oil can support cheaper, cleaner renewable energy to people across Alaska to create jobs and battle global warming. Dunleavy, by his silence, shows he’s just a candidate without a plan,” Gara added. 

Questionnaires, debates, and other forums are important parts of the electoral process and help inform Alaskans about where candidates stand on key issues. However, if the incumbent refuses to participate or show up, they inherently disadvantage those who do. 

Gara and Walker encourage newsrooms to provide recurring reporting on Dunleavy’s refusal to answer the basic questions like those included in the ADN and Beacon questionnaires; they also encourage news media to highlight the fact that Dunleavy is not paying a campaign staff and is instead running his entire campaign out of the Office of the Governor with tax dollars. 

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Les Gara was a legislator from 2003-2018. He served as an Assistant Attorney General on the Civil Prosecution of Exxon following the catastrophic 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Les has received national and state awards for his work to improve opportunities for Alaska’s children. His running mate, Jessica Cook, is a 22-year public school teacher, an education leader who has served as Vice President of both Alaska’s statewide and Anchorage education associations. 

Walker was the eleventh Governor of Alaska. During his term, he expanded access to Medicaid, enacted budget policies that protected Alaskans from taxes and state institutions from harmful cuts, and he worked to provide Alaska Native people with a seat at the table when decisions are made. He is running to rebuild Alaska alongside Drygas, former Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.

Austin Baird is the spokesperson for the Walker-Drygas campaign and can be reached at austin@walkerdrygas.com. Amber Lee, spokesperson for the Gara-Cook campaign, can be reached at amber@amberleestrategies.com.

Date Posted: Mon, July 25, 2022