Stick with Walker’s proven leadership

Through the numerous construction projects that I have worked on as a plumber/pipefitter in Alaska, I‘ve met some of the hardest working, most highly skilled individuals throughout the state. I‘ve watched welders lying on sopping wet plywood in water puddles on their back in the tightest of positions, all the while ensuring that the weld would pass an X-ray. I have helped to install intricate medical gas systems that allow emergency medical procedures to take place in our hospitals. I can point out buildings across Anchorage that I helped either build or maintain. They include hospitals, power plants, schools, medical facilities, post offices and the Anchorage Performing Arts Center just to name a few.

It‘s been my experience, having met numerous politicians, that there is a serious disconnect between how I think I would handle situations vs. how the politicians handle them. I am used to getting the job done, even if there are setbacks. You can‘t sit there and talk something to death before making decisions. Someone must step up and make the call, see it through to the end. If it is wrong, then make it right, but you can‘t just stare at it all day. If you dance around the hard decisions, everyone loses.

With Gov. Bill Walker, we don‘t have that disconnect. The man is a worker, like us. He comes from the tools. He grew up not only earning money for himself, but helping his own family pay the bills through his various jobs. For most of his teenage years, he and his brother were the sole workers in the family business with their father‘s construction company. To get through college, he worked on the pipeline as a laborer and a teamster. He got his start as a carpenter through the union. He‘s lived his life by the idea that hard work, not empty speeches, gets the job done.

Gov. Walker came into office in the midst of a fiscal catastrophe. Oil dropped to $26 per barrel, the deficit grew to $3.7 billion, and rather than do something about it, legislators chewed through $14 billion in savings. But, instead of joining the chorus of lawmakers moaning about how bad things had gotten, the governor went to work rebuilding our finances. He made drastic cuts, lowered state spending to its lowest level in the past 10 years. He reduced the deficit by $3 billion. He restored Alaska‘s credit rating and restructured the Permanent Fund to ensure our grandchildren will get a PFD. Moreover, he did it all while forward-funding education, holding the line against devastating cuts to public safety, and getting healthcare for 40,000 Alaskans at lower costs to the state.

Gov. Walker didn‘t come by these accomplishments easily. He crawled through the trenches of politicians who were unwilling to make it work, whether it was their ego or fear that was standing in their way. It came at a price, though, and he took some serious licks along the way. To pass the fiscal plan, he built a coalition of legislators that spanned the political spectrum. That plan, the single most important piece of state legislation in the past 10 years, garnered the vocal support of both staunchly conservative Sen. Kevin Meyer and unabashedly progressive Rep. Les Gara.

From the start, Gov. Walker was told he couldn‘t do it. He was told he couldn‘t become governor without a party. He proved them wrong. Legislators were supposedly so entrenched in their partisan ideology that most thought he couldn‘t achieve bipartisan support for a fiscal plan of that magnitude. He proved them wrong again. For more than four decades, the people of this state have been led to believe a gas pipeline wasn‘t possible, some still claiming this. Like before, he is proving them wrong again.

The gas line could transform Alaska‘s economy, bringing in more than 20,000 jobs with a guaranteed Project Labor Agreement. That would ensure that Americans, Alaskans first, will be the builders of it. It will inject billions of dollars into our state, help to train an entire generation of workforce, turn around the unemployment rate we are seeing, and open up Asian markets to massive trade opportunities. Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott have done the hard work to right the ship and lay a fiscal foundation. Now they are getting to work building the state.

We have all said that we want political leaders who are willing to set their egos aside, forget party lines and do the work that needs to be done for the people. We have that in Alaska. We have the only independent governing team in the country. I think it is time to celebrate that independence. I hope you will join me in supporting Bill Walker and Byron Mallott by casting your vote for them in November‘s election.

Brandon McGuire has been an Alaska resident since 2002. He is a father, U.S. Army veteran of the war in Iraq, and a proud union member with UA Local 367 Plumbers and Steamfitters.

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