Kodiak city councilman challenges Stutes for House seat

Louse Stutes and Rich Walker. (Photo of Stutes courtesy of Alaska State Legislature, photo of Walker courtesy of City of Kodiak)

Kayla Desroches and Daysha Eaton/KMXT

Louise Stutes of Kodiak is running for a third term as representative of District 32, but the Republican Party is backing another name.

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Stutes is throwing her hat in the ring despite pressure from the Alaska Republican Party to drop out and its recent endorsement of her challenger, current Kodiak City Councilman Richard Walker.

Stutes says she is just trying to represent her constituents.

“I would say that it’s not that I have gone too far away from the Republicans’ goals or anything along those lines. I would say that they’re unhappy with me because I have chosen to listen to my constituents over the Republican Party. That’s the problem. I’m not going to be told what to do by a party when it’s not to the best interests of my constituents.”

Back in 2016, Stutes was at the center of a controversy along with Republican Representatives Paul Seaton of Homer, from District 31, and Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage, from District 15. The three representatives caucused with the democrats, helping form a majority coalition, which angered the GOP.

Stutes says compromise is essential to getting things done.

“Everybody has to give a little and get a little. As I stated once before, in my first couple of years when I was in the Republican majority, it was essentially my way or the highway, and we got nothing done. And that’s not in the best interest of the state, it’s not in the best interest of my constituents, and it’s not in the best interest, in my opinion, for Alaskans as a whole.”

Stutes says the most critical issues for people in her district are ensuring that there is a dependable Alaska State Ferry System and that fisheries remain sustainable.

She says statewide she’s working on a lasting fiscal plan and helping the state to diversify the state economy.

The economy is also on Rich Walker’s mind.

“We have to really start tightening up on the budget. I wasn’t in favor of cutting our permanent fund. Our resources in the state of Alaska are abundant, and we’re not even hardly touching them.”

Walker ran once before in 2014, but lost. He says this year the Republican Party learned about his interest and reached out.

“I’d heard rumors that they weren’t happy about what happened with the coalition and all that, but to have them contact me and want to know if I would be interested in running for state house… and so I talked to them and told them that, yeah, I would be very interested in jumping back in and get involved.”

He says he filed about a week before the candidate filing deadline, which was June 1.

The primary election will be held on August 21, followed by a general election in November.

With help from Daysha Eaton, I’m Kayla Desroches for KMXT.

Edit 6/14: In a recent story about the upcoming Alaska primary election, KMXT misstated Rep. Paul Seaton’s district, which is district 31.

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