Local News

Sitka GOP cites seniority in backing Thomas

Bill Thomas will likely have the support of Sitka’s local Republicans when the party holds its primary next August.

Former Sitka assembly member Larry Crews sits on the Republican Party state central committee. Crews says there’s a lot to like about Bill Thomas: He’s a lifelong Southeasterner, an Alaska Native with a long-term commitment to public service. His seven years in the legislature, and his co-chairmanship of the House Finance Committee, also make him an attractive candidate.

Crews spoke to KCAW news after Wednesday’s chamber meeting.

“You know it’s hard to go against a person that’s got a lot of clout already behind him. I think we just have to support him and Sen. Stedman heavily.”

Crews believes it’s important for Sitka, as the largest city in its district, to have representation. Whether that’s in the senate or the house doesn’t matter. He thinks Thomas accurately characterized the working relationship of Southeast legislators, since cooperation has become especially important lately.

“And that’s one of the things down here in Southeast. Most all of our representatives work really good together. We are out there a little bit, you know. Up north, they kind of forget who we are. We need strong leadership, with seniority. And I think we’ve got two people that have pretty good seniority.”

The lack of seniority will be a setback for any Democrat who challenges Thomas for the new seat. Former Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams also attended Thomas’s chamber presentation, and pressed the representative on his vote last session to reduce taxes paid by oil companies.

McAdams questions the values of a candidate who’s got one eye on Anchorage. But the 2010 Democratic US Senate nominee won’t say who his party will field in the race for the Sitka’s new house district.

“You know, I think there’ll be a great candidate that runs, that stands up for our Alaskan communities, that stands up for Sitka, that stands up for our region – all of our villages. Every one of these villages is important. When we spend more of our time garnering support from people that are headquartered in Anchorage instead of trying to build economy in places like Angoon, Kake, and Hoonah, and Haines and Sitka, I think we’re wasting our time. I know there’ll be a great candidate who runs. At this time, I couldn’t say who.”

McAdams recently filed paperwork with the Alaska Public Offices Commission creating the group “It’s About Alaska.” The group’s stated purpose is to direct financial support to candidates who put “Alaska’s people and communities ahead of non-Alaskan special interests.”

McAdams believes local Democrats will announce a candidate to challenge Thomas early next year.

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