Republicans Weatherby, Swetzof Vying To Challenge Edgmon For House District 37

Aug 19, 2018

Alaska House District 37 includes Unalaska and the Aleutian Islands.
Credit Alaska Division of Elections

Election season starts in earnest Tuesday with the state primary.

Beyond picking the nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and U.S. Representative, voters will decide who challenges incumbent Bryce Edgmon for House District 37.

The district covers a massive swath of southwest Alaska, including the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. Edgmon has represented the area in Juneau for more than a decade.

But vying to unseat the Dillingham Democrat are two Republicans: William Weatherby of King Salmon and Stan Swetzof of Naknek.

Weatherby won the Republican nomination in 2016, while Swetzof missed the deadline to mount a write-in campaign.

KUCB's Laura Kraegel spoke with Weatherby recently about his platform.

TRANSCRIPT

KUCB: The PFD has been a key point in your campaigns. You argue that it should never have been cut — and that Permanent Fund earnings shouldn't be used to pay for state government. But others, like Bryce Edgmon, have supported those moves, saying they're necessary to help solve Alaska's financial situation. What do you think of the budget that came out of the last session? Because it did increase the PFD from $1,100 to $1,600.

WW: [laughs] OK, OK. First of all, it did not raise the PFD. The PFD should be about $3,000. This budget did not raise the PFD. It cut the PFD. So let's be a little more accurate.

KUCB: Right. Under the original formula, the PFD would've been higher. I only meant to point out that the recent budget did increase the PFD over the previous year. But it sounds like overall, you're not happy with the budget?

WW: I am not thrilled with the budget. It stole from us less this year. So do you congratulate a thief that stole less from you this year than they stole from you last year?

KUCB: What would you like to see done differently? Would you cut spending further?

WW: I have a background in manual labor, so I’m not the person to cut budgets. In every department — and there are 14 departments — there are people who are deeply involved and know where they can save money. So I would have to be presented with a lot of information in order to figure out where to cut.

KUCB: So you're open to more cuts, as long as they're heavily informed by state employees. What about generating new revenues, like an income tax? Edgmon has said that'll probably be necessary.

WW: New revenue streams — I am all ears on how the state can make more money. Now, as far as revenue goes, a lot of people consider taxes to be revenue. But basically what they're saying is: 'We need to help these people, so let's take money from these people to help these people.' And the big problem is there's a good amount of waste. So I don't think an income tax is good revenue. And it's almost insulting to call it revenue. 

KUCB: We've been talking a lot about your budget philosophy — and how it differs from Bryce Edgmon's. But I want to ask you about Stan Swetzof too. You'll have to beat him in the primary in order to challenge Edgmon in the general election. What do you think of Swetzof?

WW: I like competition. It makes a better product. If Stan has a better chance of beating Edgmon, then I will support Stan Swetzof. I haven't heard a thing from him politically in two years. Not a word. I don't know how well connected he is to this whole political process. On his Facebook page, he has a map up of the district, but it's the wrong map. It’s not actually our district.

William Weatherby is running for the Republican nomination for House District 37. His opponent is Stan Swetzof, who does have an outdated map posted to his campaign's Facebook page.

Swetzof did not respond to KUCB's requests for an interview. Originally from Atka, he previously lived in Unalaska and worked for the Department of Public Safety.

The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Bryce Edgmon, who's running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

The polls open at Unalaska City Hall Tuesday at 7 a.m. Island voters can cast their ballots until 8 p.m.