Kudos to Ethan Berkowitz for being the first to answer my six questions to the candidates! Grats to David Shurtleff on his first day there!
(Photo of David Shurtleff courtesy of Steve at "What Do I Know")
On June 19th, I sent an email to Begich, Benson, Berkowitz, Vondersaar and Metcalfe with six questions for them to answer. I told them that each question would be a blog post between now and the primary. I also requested that they try and answer them by June 30th.
I know that it's busy, busy, busy out there for the candidates and while I asked for June 30th, I didn't REALLY have expectations that would happen. However, I thought that maybe ONE person would make it!
Alas, no one did!
However, I received an email yesterday from David Shurtleff, on his first day working for Ethan's campaign, apologizing and saying that Ethan would have those to me today. Damned if I didn't get a phone call from David today and sure enough, they were in my email!!!!
My hat's off to you, David and Ethan!
(Photo courtesy of the Juneau Empire)
Sooooo...I'm extending the deadline until July 15th when I will start writing posts on each question and answer. If I don't get any other responses, then I guess we will have 6 posts focused on Ethan Berkowitz!
By the way, did I mention that I was going to submit these as diaries to Daily Kos, Pam's House Blend as well as articles for Crosscut.com which is a high-traffic Northwest online news outlet??
Anyway, here are the six question I emailed to the Progressive candidates (Berkowitz, Benson, Begich, Vondersaar, and Metcalfe). Note: I did not ask these from the standpoint of a journalist...I asked these from the standpoint of a voter and constituent who has a VERY personal investment in the answers:
1) Energy Policy: What short-term solutions do you offer towards immediate emergency gas-price relief…especially for places like Rural Alaska, Fairbanks and Juneau ? What long-term solutions do you see in Alaska’s/the country’s energy future and what steps will you take to get there?I hope to hear from everyone else soon!!!!
2) Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault: Do you have a plan to address and provide solutions to protect the mostly women and children affected by this chronic problem? Can you address solutions especially geared towards the Alaska Native Community considering the frighteningly high number of Native victims in proportion to their population?
3) Campaign Finance: Senator Barack Obama, as the new leader of the Party has told the DNC that they are no longer permitted to accept money from lobbyists or PACs. For his own campaign, this requirement has been so stringent he’s returned small, personal donations to anyone who identifies him/herself as a “lobbyist” of any kind. Will you be incorporating that directive into your own campaign and refusing money from these sources?
4) Earmarks: While the use of earmarks by Senator Stevens and Congressman Young has given Alaska a black eye throughout the rest of the country, that practice has also made them popular with many Alaskan businesses as well as individuals. Do you think it’s possible to juggle Alaska ’s dependence on earmarked government projects without making some of those same mistakes and/or further damaging Alaska ’s reputation? If so, how will you accomplish that?
5) How would you end our occupation of Iraq? Would you recommend getting out completely or maintaining a long-term presence? Would you pull out the contractors and other civilians as well? How long do you think it would take?
6) Veterans: The treatment of our Veterans is not just a recent problem as the VA has been chronically under funded for decades. This has precipitated questionably ethical money-saving practices by the agency such as forcing their employees to remain “temporary” so they don’t have to pay benefits. Veteran’s care has often been the first thing on the chopping block. However, it is often cut in ways that defy sound bite explanations so is therefore ignored by the media and the public, including the utilization of the OMB Circular “A-76” and other outsourcing practices which led to the Walter Reed Hospital debacle. Members of Congress have touted their “support of the troops” through bills that are simply window-dressing, avoiding the real “spendy” issues of Veteran’s health and long-term care. How will you address these issues and come up with permanent, long-term solutions?