Alyse Galvin is running for U.S. Congress against longtime Representative Don Young. (Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska Congressman Don Young is running for re-election this fall for a seat he’s held since 1973. Every challenger has failed to defeat him, but could this year be different? Alyse Galvin thinks so. The independent from Anchorage earned the Democratic party nomination last night (08-21-18).

Galvin visited Sitka earlier this month and spoke with KCAW about why she feels better equipped to represent Alaska than the individual who’s been doing it for the last 45 years.

Downloadable audio.

Alyse Galvin arrived with a notebook, broken up by colored tabs. She flipped through it during our interview to check her facts. Galvin is new to Alaska politics. As she contemplated a run for Alaska’s lone Congressional seat, she said she told herself, “This is where we have a need.”

“I didn’t even think about other positions. This is the one I want. And this is the one I’ll feel honored to be able to serve,” Galvin told KCAW.

Galvin has her whole family along for the ride, which includes four children and her husband Pat Galvin, a former state revenue commissioner. A few of her children are working on her campaign. She remembers what her 18-old-son told her when she broke the news of her election bid. “‘Mom, I know you’d be the best, but I’m afraid you’re going to lose.’ And it was so interesting because I didn’t expect him to be worried about me, but he kind of was,” Galvin recalled. “My husband said, ‘It’s your turn.'”

Galvin is a longtime community organizer and recent player in the Alaska Legislature, advocating for public education funding through her coalition Great Alaska Schools. She led a statewide campaign to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education. Her work took her into the halls of Washington D.C. and down the rabbit hole of health care reform. The cost of healthcare remains a major plank of her platform.

“When we all are experiencing cuts in our schools, it’s not because teachers are getting higher wages. It is true that [wages] cost a lot, but a lot of those costs are healthcare. And what I was seeing in the buildings of both Juneau and D.C. is not enough leadership to just stand up and say, ‘Hey, this is too much. We have to fix this,'” Galvin said.

“Fixing this,” for Galvin, looks like protecting universal coverage and lowering costs for employers. She brought up the pharmaceutical industry several times, vowing to push for lower prescription drug prices. For Galvin, healthcare is the deepest wound in the American economy and if that is addressed, all else will follow.

“Nobody should have to be working two or three jobs. I understand that in Sitka getting a job is difficult and housing is very expensive. We need to be looking at the very basics of what a family needs to be strong. It’s the living wage with wage growth, housing, healthcare, a sense of what childhood development is, and a good sense of community that’s taking care of its environment,” she said.

In a recent interview with Alaska Public Media, Galvin said she was leery of offshore drilling in the Arctic and wants to close the loopholes within background checks for gun sales. As an independent, she’s garnered a substantial amount of support — more than $600,000 from individual donations and 600 volunteers. Galvin was endorsed by End Citizens United for refusing to accept corporate PAC money.

Opening her binder, she noted that her opponent Congressman Don Young couldn’t say the same, with 48% of his election cycle funding from PAC contributes.

“It’s hard sometimes to let go of someone who has been there, and you feel like things are okay. I would offer that it’s only going to bring good things because I will be accessible in ways never seen before. I do things like Facebook Live all the time. I invite people to come and talk about the issue that I’m about to think about, together. So, it’s a different way but I think it’s a positive way forward. I think it’s what Alaska’s ready for,” Galvin said, adding, “I think it is. We’ll find out.”

The midterm elections are Tuesday, November 6th. Also on the ballot are candidates for the House District 35 seat, Democratic incumbent Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and Republican challenge Richard Wein.