Alyse Galvin, challenger to Rep. Don Young, hosts town hall at UAF

Sam Friedman — October 13th, 2018

FAIRBANKS — Alyse Galvin made it clear at her Friday night campaign event at the University of Alaska Fairbanks that this was a town hall, not a rally. She’d make a bit of a stump speech but said she wanted to devote most of the hour to taking questions, something she said her opponent doesn’t do enough with his constituents. 

“My opponent Don Young has refused to have any town hall meetings and has said publicly he finds them ineffective,” Galvin said. “I disagree. I respectfully disagree and I think it’s important to show that these are possible.”

Galvin has been working since January to build support for her campaign to take the seat occupied by Young since 1973. Galvin said this is her eighth visit to Fairbanks since declaring her candidacy in January. On this visit, she planned to canvas, hold a lunch event in the Rosie Creek neighborhood and hold a university town hall meeting. She said that among 800 volunteers she has around the state, there are more than 200 in Fairbanks.  

Galvin is a former fish processor and Anchorage Sheraton hotel manager. Since 2014, she’s been an activist and volunteer with the Great Alaska Schools organization that campaigns for public school funding. She’s a first-time political candidate.

In front of a crowd of about 65 people at the university student center, Galvin took questions about gay marriage, global warming, North Slope oil development, abortion, opiates, her party affiliation, copyright law, her support for Alaska Natives, impeachment, the permanent fund, Alaska Proposition 1, and Kanye West’s recent oval office meeting with President Donald Trump. She said it wasn’t appropriate for her to answer the volatile state politics questions about the salmon ballot initiative and the permanent fund; she deflected the Kanye West question, saying she was more concerned about the president’s meeting with Vladimir Putin than with the rapper.

Although Galvin got her start in public policy with education, she said she’s focused on two other issues in her quest for a U.S. House of Representatives seat: health care and political campaign financing.

Health care is an urgent problem, Galvin said, because Americans are paying much higher costs than other industrialized countries without getting better results. She said high costs are hurting education as well as keeping people in jobs they don’t want and keeping people from starting businesses. 

Asked where she stands in the debate within the Democratic party of whether to expand health care coverage with a national single payer system or with an optional buy-in public option, she didn’t take a side. 

“I’m not a bumper sticker candidate,” she said. 

Galvin said the United States would be wise to look at the Nuka System of Care healthcare approach used by the Southcentral Foundation, an Alaska Native nonprofit health care organization in Anchorage. 

“We need to pay attention to that model,” she said. “Why wouldn’t we bring that and say, ‘Let’s look at a model that’s working and maybe have a public option into buying into that.’” 

In the short term, Galvin supports a number of smaller changes to the U.S. healthcare system that she says would have big results. She thinks health insurance customers should be able to buy plans across state lines and buy prescription drugs from Canada and Europe. 

Several of Galvin’s biggest applause lines were about campaign finance reform. She has pledged to not take any campaign money from corporate political action committees. 

“Not only have I been endorsed by the End Citizens United (a national campaign reform group), I have also raised more than $1 million from people, less than $20 average (per donation),” she said. “We know we are going to change the system so we don’t have to worry about raising over a million dollars once we’re in office. But I’m going to play the game and do it and get in office.” 

Galvin has met Young in debate only once this campaign season, on Sept. 17. The two candidates are scheduled to debate in Fairbanks on Tuesday at a Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce forum.

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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