Contributed by Harry Clay
Representative Shelley Hughes is running for the seat vacated by Senator Bill Stoltze. She is absolutely the best choice and I want to tell you why. But before I do, I want to point out some real concerns about her opponents.
One of her opponents, Steve St. Clair, retired, has only worked for government in the past and although he has been an activist advocating to reduce the budget the last few years, he fails to recognize that this is exactly what Shelley has worked to do. He seems to be quite naive, thinking that one legislator out of sixty can single-handedly get the job done, and gets quite indignant that this hasn't happened. His reaction and the fact that he either does not understand the process or fails to factor the reality of that process into his campaign talk has me very concerned. The last couple years, Steve has promoted the United for Liberty target of 4.5 billion for the operating budget which Shelley also advocated for. The House and Senate passed a 4.7 billion budget for this year and covered some items with funds leftover from last year. That's a reduction of 1.2 billion over the last two years. Shelley Hughes pushed hard for more reductions; there weren't, however, enough conservative votes in the legislature to get the budget lower like she and many of us wanted. Nonetheless, she has not wavered. She has shown clear and consistent leadership-watch her bold videos on Facebook to get a taste of it-about the need to reduce the size and scope of government. It's not just words either for Shelley. She has worked tirelessly to make that happen wherever she can (As an example, this year 9 of her 12 amendments were adopted in the budget subcommittee process.).
Shelley Hughes' other opponent, Adam Crum, has a degree in public health and has had the role of overseeing safety in his family's business. He has not been particularly active in advocacy or policy or the election process over the years, and in fact, has not been a regular voter according to Division of Elections records. And he wants to jump straight to the Senate?
That's concerning. Also of great concern is that he is endorsed by Mat-Su Business Alliance (MSBA) which is a member of Alaska First, a promoter of the governor's permanent fund rip-off and theft of our PFD. Shelley has outlined a clear fiscal solution and path forward to close the gap: reducing the budget not snatching PFDs is step one in her plan. It makes me nervous that her opponent not only has this Alaska First alignment, but a board he serves on joined in on signing a letter to the legislature last year supporting a change to the permanent fund to an endowment plan. He says he'll "protect" our PFDs, but I'm concerned his plan to protect them may be too much like the governor's promise (using some of our PFDs to pay for government, how on earth does that protect them?).
If you're wondering if Shelley is pro-business, she's considered among the top four in the House that can be counted on when it comes to industry and the private sector economy. Seven of her bills that passed directly fit this pro-business category. In addition, she was honored to carry four Senate business bills just this past spring on the House floor to passage.
So that said, why else is Shelley Hughes our best choice as state senator?
Shelley has a proven record and is extraordinarily effective. She has been in the House for four years and during that time she has carried 13 pieces of legislation that have passed. None of which grew government, but instead helped remove barriers, promoted opportunities for Alaskans, ensured personal liberties and reduced costs of government. That's an incredible achievement compared to many other legislators.
She's a bulldog when it comes to getting things done, and if someone has good conservative legislation to suggest, they're knocking on her door. On top of that, despite some bills receiving more than the normal number of committee assignments due to politics in the legislature, she's pressed on and been successful. She's also done a great job gaining bipartisan votes. A point of fact, HCR4 and HJR 14 (the pair of Countermand Amendment resolutions based on Article V of the US Constitution to help restore the balance of power between the state and federal governments) were the only ones nationwide passed that had Democrat votes. Shelley Hughes knows how to work across the aisle toward the common goal of the State and US Constitutions.
Shelley is approachable. As the National Legislative Director for Citizen Initiatives, I approached Shelley and Bill Stoltze to work to get the Countermand Amendment application to Congress and the Delegate Resolution for the Article V convention rules and amendment language. I found out very rapidly that getting a bill going, even at the ground floor, took a lot of hard work. Shelley kept her door open to me and repeatedly welcomed my involvement. She asked tough questions, looked at the language and most importantly the end result with a hard eye for facts and a realistic outcome, always keeping in mind the big picture: eventual ratification by 38 states which she knows will require both red and blue states. We worked together to get the legislation introduced and through the committee hearing process. The end result was it took 2 years of hard work to get the resolutions passed. Shelley and her staff did an exemplary job of spearheading the effort, with Alaska being the first state in the nation out of the gate to pass the important pair of resolutions, setting the precedent of bipartisan support.
Shelley is truly hardworking to the core. I spent four days in Juneau promoting the resolutions. Meetings upon meetings with many legislators and also strategy meetings with Shelley and Bill, as well as with other Valley Legislators. By 5 PM, my feet were killing me, I was dead tired and Shelley? She was just getting started! She still had committee meetings, meetings with other constituents, meetings with the governor and/or his people well past 9 PM, and then she was on her computer answering emails, studying bills and preparing for the next day well into the night! She juggled multiple issues and tasks, did her research and was knowledgeable on the many ongoing bills on a wide variety of topics; all while working on the several committees she chaired, co-chaired or was a member of. And she did it all without hesitation, all the while remaining calm, focused, and respectful.
I could go on and on about one of the most effective and intelligent stateswomen in the Alaska Legislator, but let me close with this. Her opponents have accused of her of being for big government, for being ineffective and for not being transparent. These are desperate accusations and so ridiculously untrue. I've shot down the first two accusations above, but let me say something about transparency. Access and transparency go hand in hand. I can't count the number of times I have written Shelley, called her, left messages for her and each and every one was always met with Shelley Hughes being attentive, responding back with knowledge and points for me to consider. All messages always were returned, all e-mails were answered. I know for a fact that many of those e-mail answers were done after her day with the legislature was over, sometimes after midnight! Always our conversations were respectful and considerate and most importantly, Shelley always listened closely and was honest with me, whether or not we perfectly agreed or not. She doesn't play politics. Her integrity is solid.
Serving as a legislator isn't about being angry and frustrated at the “system.” Campaign promises cannot be made that show a confrontational attitude towards other legislators and whomever the House or Senate leadership is. Big talk and enthusiasm aren't enough. Saying you'll stand for the people doesn't measure up to someone who has faithfully stood for and been accountable to the people.
The Legislature consists of 20 senators, all of whom Shelley will work with, to do her level best to influence toward conservative values and to firmly push back against those whom would put our state at risk, be it financially or by stripping away our state sovereignty and our rights. We are at a critical crossroads. It takes a newcomer in the legislature about a year to come up to speed. Can we afford that? Do we want our district to lack in representation while a newbie is learning the lay of the land? I don't think so. Shelley is the only candidate who can hit the ground running on our behalf. It's crystal clear that Shelley Hughes is the best choice for a number of very important reasons.
She is asking us, her employers, to give her a promotion to Alaska State Senator for District F! Shelley Hughes has earned this promotion and the responsibility that goes with it. Choose Hughes for Senator on August 16!