Brent Watkins is the Democratic candidate for State House Seat 32 in the Alaska Legislature, and is seeking to unseat one-term incumbent Republican Representative Louise Stutes in November.
Watkins said the failure of the state leadership is one of not planning beyond being an oil state, something he’d like to change.
“We need to look differently at a post oil economy. We’ve seen what it does. It booms and busts and we get caught up in the big spending on the boom and don’t plan for the bust,” he said. “We can’t continue to do this. We need to diversify our incomes. We need to look at all of our options at this point.”
In addition to diversifying, Watkins says the state needs to rethink, on a basic level, its priorities when it comes to resources.
“We can’t just grab oil and coal wherever oil and coal is easy to grab. The new leases in the Lower Cook Inlet and the Chuitna Mine operation, are not good for coastal communities. We need resources – we don’t need resources that are under salmon streams,” Watkins said. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot there for a short term gain for 50 years worth of coal and throw out a thousand years worth of salmon is not a good trade.”
Watkins, while trying to keep his campaign expenses down, has hired an outside political adviser.
“I picked up a consultant group, District Political of Washington D.C., that’s working with me to help with my programs and getting my message out, get my name recognition up,” Watkins said. “And it’s going to be a lot more door-to-door and getting out. I’m going to be headed to Cordova before too long to meet with the folks there. And get into the villages around Kodiak more.”
The aforementioned campaign frugality meshes with Watkins’ environmental bent and creative use of custom campaign signage.
“Yes sir, I’ve made all my campaign signs. Trying to keep plastic use down is part of it. The other thing is the cost of them. It’s money I don’t have to fund-raise to put a bunch of plastic around town,” he said. “I’m trying to approach things a little differently and treat it as community art projects that people can enjoy a little more than just another campaign sign that they try and tune out. They’re all parts of old fishing equipment and recycled plywood, so everything’s had a purpose and they’ll have another one when they’re done.”
On his Facebook page, Watkins states that he is an advocate for “Challenged Alaskans.” That was evident last September, when he stood silently with a sign outside the Kodiak Police Station and protested alleged excessive use of force by Kodiak Police Officers against a Kodiak man with autism. That incident is now in the courts.