Commentary

Commentary: Thomas too close to oil companies

Opinions expressed in commentaries on KCAW and KCAW.org are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by KCAW’s board, staff, or volunteers.

I’d like to speak about the race for the State House seat for Sitka and surrounding communities. The two candidates are Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and Bill Thomas.


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Bill Thomas has been in the State House for years, representing Haines and other small communities. The redrawing of district boundaries means that Thomas will represent Sitka, if we voters send him back to the Legislature. I do not think we should do that. Here’s why:

The primary business of the state legislature is to handle the state’s money. Taxes on North Slope oil fund state government. Some of it we save – like the permanent fund. Some of it we spend for state projects – like the University, the court system and the ferries. Some of it is distributed to the cities for their use on local projects – like local roads and, in Sitka, Blue Lake dam improvements.

Rep. Thomas’s supporters keep putting an ad in the paper that attempts to tie Sitka’s success in getting Legislative support for local projects to the joint efforts of Thomas and our Senator Stedman. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, Rep. Thomas and Sen. Stedman are members of the same party – but they are on opposite sides on the most important money issue that has faced the Legislature in years. During the last Legislative session, Bert Stedman was one of two prominent senators who stood up against efforts by the oil companies and the governor to give the oil companies a $2 billion per year tax break — with no strings attached. Unlike Sen. Stedman, Rep. Thomas, in his position as co-chair of the House Finance Committee, voted repeatedly in favor of this giveaway.

Here’s why that is significant: if the Legislature had $2 billion less to appropriate each year, this would hamstring the funding of state projects and the state pass-through of money for municipal projects. We still need another $50 million dollars to raise the Blue Lake dam. If Rep. Thomas gives away our $2 billion per year, will the Legislature be able to give us the money we need for the Blue Lake dam and other vital projects? It is simple mathematics. It just won’t work.

Is it any surprise that campaign finance reports show that Rep. Thomas has consistently been generously supported by contributions from the big oil companies? That’s just what we need: another legislator who has snuggled up to the oil companies.

Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins has pledged to oppose Thomas’s $2 billion per year oil money giveaway. Additionally, Kreiss-Tomkins has shown that he will put the interest of Southeast Alaskans first if we elect him. For these reasons, I am voting for Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins.

Jim McGowan has been a Sitka resident since 1984.

Opinions expressed in commentaries on KCAW are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by KCAW’s board, staff, or volunteers.

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