Q&A: U.S. House candidate Alyse Galvin says Alaska is ready for change

Congressional candidate Alyse Galvin poses for a photo outside KTOO in Juneau on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. Galvin has put together the best-funded challenge to Don Young's House tenure since 2008.

Congressional candidate Alyse Galvin poses for a photo outside KTOO in Juneau on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. Galvin has put together the best-funded challenge to Don Young’s House tenure since 2008. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Federal campaign finance disclosures show that Alyse Galvin has put together the best-funded challenge to Don Young’s tenure in Congress since 2008.

As of the end of June, she had raised more than half a million dollars. According to Federal Election Commission filings, the last challengers to top that over their entire campaigns were in 2008: Democrat Ethan Berkowitz with $1.6 million, and two Republican challengers, then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell with $604,254, and Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux with $540,513.

Galvin’s doing it mostly through small, individual donations. She’s an independent with progressive policy positions, but is averse to political labels. She’s hoping for a head-to-head race against the 45-year incumbent in November, so she’s running in the Democratic primary on Aug. 21.

Galvin stopped by KTOO on Sunday for this interview. It’s been edited for length and clarity.


I’m Alyse Galvin, and I’m running for Congress.

I’ve been an independent for 12 years, and I really believe it’s long past time to put partisan battles aside, and get things done.

We are experiencing the real effects of having an economy based on the price of oil. And I think that we’re all so tired of, I’ll just call it lack of civility in politics, and so I think people are ready for change and I’m excited to be there for that.

A lot of different people have been trying to unseat Don Young for a long time. What makes your run different?

Well, we’re in a different time, and I’m certainly a different candidate. Alaskans are frustrated about many things to do with politics. And they’re more aware because it’s hitting their pocketbook, it’s hitting their sense of wellness, it’s even hitting their sense of dignity. We have elders who are worried about their Social Security checks, we have people who concerned about their health care. People are even taking their pills every other day rather than every day — you know, it’s a real hand-to-mouth sort of situation right now.

We’re also in a new situation, because I’m a different sort of candidate. I’m not a politician, nor have I ever been. But I think people like that, I think it’s exactly why I’m running. Because as I was watching what was happening back East in DC, and frankly in Juneau, it became clear there weren’t enough people like me, like, everyday people helping to make those decisions. And I think it helps when you’ve recently raised a family. You’ve been there. You’ve held jobs recently on the street.

And what’s your professional background in?

In terms of putting myself through college, I’ve worked every sort of job you could imagine, from fish processing, or the slime line, to working in construction sites. Lots of hauling trash and pulling dogs, things like that. Lots of waitressing. And I have owned a home daycare business. I owned a UniBind book distributorship. It was a thermal binding system that made books in less than a minute. I was a manager at a larger hotel in Anchorage.

And the last four and half years, I’ve been doing work on my own as a volunteer for Great Alaska Schools.

And so policy-wise, though, what distinguishes you from the typical Democrat?

Yeah, I think that I would align very much with the values of the party, but I’d have to know exactly where they are on particular bills. To me, it has to fit for Alaska.

So for example, womens’ rights? Yes, I’m very supportive of Alaskan women, and all women, having the opportunity to make decisions about their own bodies with their doctors.

In terms of jobs, I strongly believe that every Alaskan and American should be able to work 40 hours and make enough money that they can come home and spend time with their family. Very simple.

We need to have livable wages with wage growth.

With health care, we need to have access to it. Affordable health care for all. And accessible. And how we get there? I’m open to any avenue to that, but we’ve got to get that taken care of.

Resource extraction – whether it’s offshore or in some of the refuges — do you have a position on those?

We are a natural resource state. Our greatest resource is our people. I think that we first of all need to make sure we are well educated.

But in terms of natural resources and extraction? Yes, we have mining, we have oil and gas, and lots of other opportunities for us here in Alaska.

Our best resources that we haven’t really explored are the renewable resources. We’ve got hydro, wind, tidal – tidal hasn’t really gotten enough front end investment – solar. We’ve got to be looking ahead to the future and we have not been.

So your campaign has raised more than $500,000 as of the last FEC report through June 30. Have you ever done any fundraising at that scale before?

Well, no, I’ve had a lot of bake sales. … I’ve also been in business. It’s really not the same as bringing in people to believe in your vision and be a part of it. But I am very used to organizing people. And people have decided chip in on this vision for the future.

And we have raised over 600,000 now. I’ll tell you that of that 600,000, 85 percent or more are from 100 bucks or less. So we’re talking about thousands of Alaskans who are really ready for change. Ready for a new voice, and I’m very grateful to be that conduit.


We interviewed Galvin’s chief rival in the upcoming primary, Democratic candidate Dimitri Shein, in January

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