It’s curious why any Governor would continually poke a stick into the eye of his constituents, but Mike Dunleavy seems to have a unique penchant for it.
In just the past several months, Mike Dunleavy’s apparent distaste for coastal Alaskans has taken a variety of forms, including:
- Loss of Ferry Service: In perhaps his biggest blow to coastal communities, Mike Dunleavy has managed to cripple the Alaska Marine Highway System. During his run for Governor, Dunleavy promised not to cut the ferry system. Then, last year, he proposed a 75% cut. Not surprisingly, coastal Alaskans are furious, with well-attended protests across southeast Alaska. Today, only one of Alaska’s 11 ferries is in operation, and the State is spending extra funds to contract with private shippers to move freight and food for coastal residents.
- Lopsided Fisheries Policy: In the wake of recent decisions by the Board of Fish that shifted fishery allocations from commercial fishermen to sport fishing interests, the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game – Doug Vincent Lang – took to social media to celebrate the “win” (ADFG has since pulled-down the offending video). In an unusually strong rebuttal, the United Fishermen of Alaska issued a press release that said: “The remarks communicate a blatant disregard for the losers in this scenario, namely Alaskan residents who depend on commercial fisheries in the Cook Inlet Region, and the individual Alaskans who access the resource by purchasing commercially harvested fish.”
- Pebble Mine: While a strong majority of Alaskans continue to oppose the Pebble mine, it’s no secret Mike Dunleavy supports it. The only problem is that he refuses to admit it to Alaskans. “I have absolutely no interest in supporting any projects or potential projects based upon the data and the science that would harm Alaska,” the governor said. Then the news broke that the Governor took talking points verbatim from Pebble to lobby the President. As one EPA staffer put it, “[t]his shows the company and the governor’s office were essentially one and the same.”
- Ramming Jetskis into the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area: In 2001, Alaskans spoke loud and clear: keep Jetskis out of Kachemak Bay. Majorities again spoke-up in 2011 and 2016 to continue the ban, because anyone who’s ever run a boat knows Jetskis are marketed and designed to be very different than traditional vessels. But after some private conversations with a few jetski advocates, the Dunleavy Administration is now pushing a new rule to allow Jetskis in Kachemak Bay. If you want to read the well-grounded reasons property owners, small businesses and local residents oppose Jetskis in Kachemak Bay, see the comments on the proposed rule. But like his other decisions, facts and science do not seem to factor into the political decisions Mike Dunleavy makes to kowtow to his campaign supporters.
In his relatively short term in office, Mike Dunleavy is now unquestionably the least popular Governor in the state’s history. And based on how he’s treating coastal Alaskans, it’s no surprise why.