Kodiak Daily Mirror: Field set for fisheries debates

By Steve Williams

The field is set for the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce’s fisheries debates, scheduled for Oct. 3 and 4 at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium.

On Oct. 3, Democratic gubernatorial candidates BIll Walker and Les Gara will answer questions in front of a live debate audience, starting at 7 p.m. Incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has indicated that he will not be able to attend the debate due to a scheduling conflict.

The Dunleavy campaign did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday. He recently was in Kodiak for a pair of bill signings.

Dunleavy was the leading gubernatorial candidate vote getter in Alaska’s Aug. 16 open primary, when he received 40.4 percent of the vote. Gara finished second with 23 percent and Walker third with 22.7 percent.

All four U.S. House candidates are scheduled to appear at the House fisheries debate on Oct. 4, including Mary Peltola, who was sworn-in as Alaska’s U.S. Representative earlier this month to complete the term of the late Don Young. Republican challengers Nick Begich and Sarah Palin also plan to attend, as does Libertarian Chris Bye of Fairbanks. That debate is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Senate debate.

For the U.S. Senate candidate debate, incumbent Lisa Murkowski is set to appear as is Democratic challenger Pat Chesbro. Murkowski’s main opponent in the race, Trump-endorsed Republican Kelly Tshibaka, has told organizers she will not attend the Kodiak event due to a scheduling conflict. Tshibaka’s campaign did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday.

A panel of fisheries experts will be asking the questions at the three debates, and local civic leader and businessman Dan Rohrer will be moderating.

Jena Lowmaster, executive director of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, said the organization has received good responses from the public and the seafood industry in its efforts to generate potential debate questions.

Candidates will know about possible debate topics, but will not have access to the actual questions before the night of the debate in which they are involved.

“We give the candidates a list of topics beforehand so they won’t get caught off guard,” Lowmaster said.

For more than 30 years, fisheries issues have been the focus of candidate forums and debates held in Kodiak. This year, the debates will be held in person and streamed via Zoom and Facebook LIVE, broadcast on KMXT 100.1 FM, and made available on public radio stations statewide.