SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Alaska needs a new generation of leadership
By Walter J. Hickel


November 01, 2006

Sarah Palin has arrived on the scene at the very moment Alaska needs a new generation of leadership that understands the difference between right and wrong; a generation that understands that "all political power is inherent in the people;" a generation that isn't afraid to stand up to power.

When asked in midsummer if I would co-chair her campaign for governor, I immediately said yes. I felt then and now that this remarkable woman has a gift for grass-roots politics and an instinct for moral courage that Alaska needs as never before.

The special interests who want to defeat her claim she lacks experience. But it's not her inexperience they fear; it's her experience.

She became known statewide when she confronted unethical behavior and challenged the most powerful in the state, both in state government and in her own political party.

When she is elected governor and discovers any more rot in Juneau, she will sweep it out the door. She is a person of strong character, and a free society requires integrity at all levels, especially at the top.

There is a certain magic to Sarah's appeal to the average Alaskan. People instinctively like and respect her. That charisma is a reflection of the Alaska lifestyle she lives. Her roots run deep in education on her side and the Yup'ik tradition of her husband. She fishes commercially and Todd is a steelworker on the Slope. Their life is filled with public service, family and adventure.

But is Alaska ready for a woman governor? You bet we are.

Over the years I have observed that the people of the North are a family of one. For generations the First Alaskans put community first, and they still do. It is not "my whale." It is "our whale." And a woman instinctively thinks about family.

No woman will let our rural villages freeze in the dark or sink into the sea or go hungry for the lack of fish and game in order to balance a budget juggled by bean counters in warm offices in far away Juneau. She'll find a way.

A woman cares about her elders, about the high cost of health care, about early childhood education, about safety in our neighborhoods and about the quality of our schools and universities.

Like any mother of teenagers, Sarah understands the connection between a healthy economy and her children's future. She knows that the biggest issue Alaska faces is getting our natural gas to market and making sure that precious resource provides energy and jobs for our people, not just Outsiders.

I eagerly look forward to seeing Gov. Sarah Palin negotiate with the oil companies and represent us when called to Washington, D.C., to make our case.

In an earlier generation, it was my task to insist that the oil industry explore the North Slope when they were pulling out and to demand that they build the trans-Alaska oil line when they wanted to delay.

Unfortunately, when Gov. Tony Knowles faced them, he chose to compromise. In 1999 BP made a bid to take over Arco Alaska and win control of more than 70 percent of the North Slope and the trans-Alaska pipeline. Instead of saying, "Hell, no!" and filing an antitrust lawsuit, Knowles crafted a complex plan to approve the deal. If it hadn't been for a nonpartisan group of Alaskans who cried "foul" and a last-minute $1.2 billion lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission, BP's attempt to monopolize Alaska's greatest resource would have succeeded.

We need a governor who knows that the key to dealing with the industry is to remind them that they are guests in the Great Land. They are welcome, but we are not impressed or intimidated by their money and political horsepower, and they are not going to own us.

We need a governor who will insist that in Alaska they will respect our government's obligations as an owner state and will do business here according to the highest environmental and ethical standards.

Who better to lead us than Sarah Palin?


About: Walter J. Hickel was the Governor of Alaska from1966-1968 and from 1990-1994. He served as the U.S. Secretary of the Interior from 1969-1970.



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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska