A Doorstep Chat With Eileen Patterson

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Contributed by Eileen Patterson

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK. I set my shoulders back, suck in my stomach, take a deep breath and wait. I hear footsteps (YES!) and I briefly worry if I’ve interrupted something important (like a nap). The door opens a crack and a skeptical face asks me, “What do you want?”

“I’m Eileen Patterson, I’m running for State House right here in District 11, and I’m going door-to-door to introduce myself and have a quick chat if you have the time?”

“Are you a Democrat or a Republican?”

“I’m a post-partisan Democrat. What that mean is, I believe relationships are as important as convictions. As a former Tea Party conservative and Army veteran, I have a bold mix of values, with honor and integrity topping the list.”

“How did you go from the Tea Party to the Democratic Party?”

“It was a process - a shift in focus. After learning more about large system failures in our country, I became passionate about reforming those systems. From the justice system to corrections, from pain management to addiction treatment, we have to make sure we are applying the rules equitably, adequately providing evidence-based programs and removing barriers to rehabilitation. The advocates I work with are almost exclusively progressives, and then Bernie called for leaders to better the party from within, so I registered as a Democrat. But being post-partisan means I’m not afraid to reveal my leanings toward new federalism and frustrations with popular Democratic ideas like the “assault” weapons ban.”

“The only reason I’m still talking to you is out of respect for your military service - the national political circus is an embarrassment. I don’t know if I could vote for a Democrat these days.”

“I’m embarrassed too. But we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking either side is truly fighting for us. At that level, it’s almost all big money and big power interests. It feels good sometimes to rage with like-minded people about threats to our liberty - I get it, I protested the Affordable Care Act in 2009 in Atlanta with Sean Hannity! But when we sit at the table with our own community to problem-solve our everyday issues, political affiliations almost never come up. I would love to talk about why I’m the person you want representing you at the table in Juneau.”

“That sounds reasonable.”

“Reasonable is one of my super powers! I am genuinely motivated to solve big problems, and I believe we do that faster and better by having fair and sensible conversations. “

“ONE of your super powers?”

“I have 26! I actually believe we all could come up with skills, abilities or areas of expertise that we have - one for every letter of the alphabet. It turns out, I think mine are perfectly suited to provide quality representation for our district.”


“Zesty! My enthusiasm is contagious, and I know it helps me build teams and build consensus around ideas. I can rally the troops!”


“Curious! I’m an exceptionally curious person. I want to know all the things! I routinely take in tons of information from a wide variety of sources, like podcasts, YouTube videos, online learning academy courses, professional and trade journals and even discussion sites. Which is good, since as a state representative it will be my duty to learn a lot about things that are new to me, like oil economics and complex budgeting strategies.”

“Okay, but do you Stand for Salmon or Stand for Alaska?”

“I will vote YES on ballot measure one, because it incorporates more public process, and I believe we can reign in any potential overreach if we need to later.”

“PFD cuts?”

“I believe the PFD cuts were the most unfair and regressive way to tax Alaskans to generate revenue for the state. I support protecting our PFD in our constitution, so legislators will be forced to consider more honorable solutions.”

“What about that crime bill? SB91?”

“Remember how I told you I protested the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009? At that time, I was, in principle, against omnibus bills like this - ones that create massive change across multiple areas and agencies - because the consequences are impossible to predict and could be disastrous. But the ACA taught me a valuable lesson that I believe can be used in the case of SB91.

“Politicians ran on fully repealing the ACA. It was a campaign promise for nearly every conservative candidate across the country. And yet it remains. The repeal advocates agree that despite the problems it caused, it still effectively solved many of the problems it was created to solve, such as improving access to medical treatment for millions of Americans who previously did not have access. The ACA cannot simply be repealed. It also must be replaced, and that new solution has not been created yet.

“So, that’s where I stand on SB91. I support growing pre-trial diversion and reentry programs. I support being fiscally responsible. Show me legislation that addresses our verifiably unsustainable incarceration and recidivism rates, and I will consider supporting a repeal of the solution we have now.”

“Well, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I really appreciate you coming to me… I can’t remember the last time a politician took the time to talk to me like this.”

“It’s my honor. Thank you for engaging and taking YOUR time to hear my pitch. At the end of the day, you have two choices for this position. What I can promise you is that I have more energy, more enthusiasm, and more ideas to do this job well. I’ll always prioritize conversations with you and your neighbors over lobbyists and corporations. I haven’t and won’t take any PAC money, so you can be sure I’m looking out for your interests and not big money interests. I will lead in Juneau with a passion for listening and a veteran’s commitment to American values. If you ever have any questions, my personal cell number is 907-795-6587. Call me anytime.”