Commentary

Eliason: Thomas has power, experience needed in Juneau

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’m the wife of the late Sen. Dick Eliason. I’ve spent many years paying attention to how the legislature and politics work in Juneau. When my husband was the President of the Senate, he rose to power because he was in the majority party and because he had experience serving on the Sitka Assembly and as our mayor.

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Dick had the respect of his peers and therefore the support of his colleagues which enabled him to get things done for Sitka and the state. Rep. Bill Thomas has earned that same respect from his peers.

Part of the hard cold facts of politics is if you aren’t in the majority party, you have very little chance of affecting policy or getting support for major capital projects.

Dick was a lifelong fisherman just like Rep. Bill Thomas. Bill is the lone commercial fisherman in the legislature. If Bill is not there, fishermen will not have anyone who understands their needs.

I respect Jonathan (Kreiss-Tomkins) for his education and his achievements in high school. However, the political realities in Juneau and being responsible for representing 17,500 people in our district is a long way from political theory in college.

Success in Juneau comes from gaining respect of your colleagues and building relationships. Rep. Bill Thomas is in the majority party and has risen to one of the most influential positions in the legislature. He is co-chair of the House Finance Committee. Bill is in the House leadership and, as Dick knew full well from his legislative experience, having power is the key to being able to get things done for Sitka.

Sen. Bert Stedman in the Senate and Rep. Bill Thomas in the House, in power positions, is the only way for us to get the funding to complete the Blue Lake dam project. Period. That’s just the hard cold facts.

Pat Eliason is a Sitka resident and the wife of the late state Sen. Dick Eliason, R-Sitka.

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