A Proven Republican Steps Into the Fray: Joe Wright!
Watch for a rugby style primary election scrum1 in the upcoming Eagle River-to-Eklutna Senate District L race!
Voters here will have to make some calculated choices with the newly established Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in a crowded field if we expect to change the political calculus in Juneau.
We know now RCV2 is simply an underhanded way to deny Republican’s Closed Primary. But NO candidate is running as a Democrat in District L even if SHE should.
The Four candidates running for this redistricted Senate seat are: Ken McCarty, Kelly Merrick, Clayton Trotter, and Joe Wright. Upward ambitions have meant a couple of current House of Representatives members are running against each other—and RCV could bring a surprise–but that’s NOT the rub.
Honest representation of voters once elected IS the rub!
Joe Wright has been working locally for some time to make this district better. He believes he is the viable option for those who are ready for a fresh start. Wright demonstrated fealty when–as chairman of the District 14 Republican Party–it became necessary to censure Rep. Merrick for joining the Democrat Minority to give them a Majority Coalition. Her single act of treachery threw all elected Republican House Members statewide to the back of the bus, guaranteeing another do-nothing same-ol-same-ol legislative session in backwater Juneau.
Joe Wright explained: When this came up at the district level, I formed a committee and they looked at it, evaluated what she had done, and the recommendation was to censor Rep. Merrick. We took it to the State Central Committee where they also voted 80 percent to censor her. Last April the State Republican Convention also censured Merrick, but here she is running again as a Republican.
After 24 years in the Navy, Joe Wright chose to move to Eagle River. Today he is active as President of the Deshka Landing Association, active in the Southfork ER Community Council, on the Road Board of Supervisors for Chugiak, Birchwood, and Eagle River under Municipal Code § 27.30.215 (CBERRRSA) and is employed as a top manager for Otis Elevator. Joe Wright has been active in the EaglExit effort to separate Assembly District 2 from Anchorage, and I have interviewed him before about his vision for this district.
Rep. Merrick might argue that somebody had to break the organizational stalemate at the start of the session, but her candidate financial disclosures tell a different story. In an organized crime syndicate a person of Merrick’s position in The Family is higher than the typical Made Man3. Merrick is an Underboss. Joey Merrick is Boss.
“Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government. It is almost the equal of family. Never forget that. If you had built up a wall of friendship you wouldn’t have to ask me to help.”― Mario Puzo, The Godfather
Rep. Merrick’s Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) Start Report for this election shows top 15 contributors were all unions except one construction company. This was Rep. Merrick’s chance to deliver for the forces who think Alaska should be run by government workers and special interest non-profit organizations. Gov. Bill Walker appreciates Merrick so much he also kicked in $1,000, while Assistant Alaska Attorney General John Skidmore and Alaska Division of Public Safety Deputy Commissioner Leon Morgan each paid $250 homage. Payments from Washington and Oregon union bosses are also listed with APOC. These mob members happily funnel union political contributions to the wife of Boss Merrick, because those funds guarantee access and accommodation far beyond anything a mere constituent could expect.
Who Owns Kelly Merrick?
Full Disclosure: I am a retired member of this Alaska Laborer’s Union and I have voted for Merrick in the past myself.
These special interests don’t vote. They encourage their members who happen to live in Merrick’s district to vote but union efforts are designed to create financial indenture at a much more diabolical level. Traditionally Unions give almost exclusively to Democrats, but Merrick’s Republican constituency in this historically conservative district of the state makes her duplicity particularly valuable to strong-arm anti-Republican union interests.
|11/16/21||Alaska Laborers PAC||3,000.00|
|12/29/21||Laborers Union Local 341||3,000.00|
|12/29/21||Laborers Union Local 942||3.000.00|
|12/30/21||UA Local 375 Plumbers & Steamfitters Union (FBX)||3,000.00|
|12/31/21||Juneau Central Labor Council of Unions||3,000.00|
|01/11/22||Laborers Union Local 341 PAC Account||3,000.00|
|01/12/22||Alaska Laborers Union PAC||3,000.00|
|01/14/22||Laborers Local 492 ALPEV Voluntary Contributions (FBX)||3,000.00|
|1/15/22||Public Employees Local 71||2,000.00|
|12/29/21||Anchorage Fire Fighter’s Union IAFF Local 1264||1,500.00|
|12/29/21||Operating Engineers Union Local 302||1,500.00|
|12/29/21||Teamsters Union Local 959 (FBX)||1,500.00|
|12/31/21||Gerald Neeser, Neeser Construction||1,500.00|
|12/29/21||Alaska State Employee Union ASEA/AFSCME Local 52||1,000.00|
|12/29/21||Lyndon Transport James Jansen||1,000.00|
|12/30/21||Bill Walker Brena Bell Walker (Failed 1-term Governor)||1,000.00|
|1/10/22||Bill Armstrong, Armstrong Oil & Gas (CO)||1,000.00|
|12/31/21||Elizabeth Stevens, Wife of former Dunleavy Chief of Staff Ben Stevens||750.00|
|12/2921||Union Lawyer Charles Dunnagan||500.00|
|12/29/21||Electrical Union Workers IBEW Local 1547||500.00|
|12/29/21||UA Local 367 Plumbers & Steamfitters Union||500.00|
|12/31/21||Robert Abbott, NW Region Laborers Union (WA)||500.00|
|12/31/21||Linda Anderson, Foundation Health Partners (FBX)||500.00|
|12/31/21||Joe Balash, Santos Limited (Oil Search)||500.00|
|12/31/21||Vince Beltrami, retired Alaska AFL-CIO President||500.00|
|12/31/21||Tom Brice, retired Alaska Union Official||500.00|
|12/31/21||Dave Cruz, Cruz Construction (FBX)||500.00|
|12/31/21||Joelle Hall, President Alaska AFL-CIO||500.00|
|12/31/21||Keith Meyer, LNG Central (TX)||500.00|
|12/31/21||James Sampson, Former Pres. AFL-CIO (FBX)||500.00|
|12/31/21||Colleen Savoie, Parker Smith Insurance Broker||500.00|
|12/31/21||Matthew Shuckerow, Former Press Secretary for Gov Dunleavy||500.00|
|12/31/21||Kai Sims, President Anchorage Wolverines Hockey||500.00|
|12/31/21||John Sims, President ENSTAR||500.00|
|12/31/21||Kevin Sund, Juneau carpenter||500.00|
|12/31/21||Khalial Within, Attorney, AK Dist Council of Laborers||500.00|
|01/12/2022||Wes Canfield, AK Laborer’s Union Local 341 Bus Agent||500.00|
|01/11/22||Caboret Hotel & Restaurant (CHARR PAC)||500.00|
|01/11/2022||Kisha Guillen, Bookkeeper Laborer’s Local Union 341||500.00|
|01/12/2022||Todd Porter, QAP Construction Co.||500.00|
|01/13/22||Larry Bell, AK Natl (IBEW UNION) Electrical Contractors Assn||500.00|
|01/17/22||Shalon Harrington, Dir. External Affairs Ambler Metals||500.00|
|01/17/22||John Lincoln, CEO-NANA Corp||500.00|
|12/31/21||Doug Buman Jenn Buman) Laborer’s Health Safety Fund (OR)||300.00|
|12/31/21||Brena English, Juneau School District “Paraeducator”||250.00|
|12/31/21||Michael Gallagher, Retired Laborer’s Union Bus Mgr||250.00|
|12/31/21||James Metcalf, ASEA/AFSCME Union||250.00|
|12/31/21||Marcie Obremski, Bus Mgr IBEW Local 1547 (Palmer)||250.00|
|01/05/22||Sydney Morgan, Doyon Utilities (FBX)||250,00|
|01/06/22||James Palmer, Retired||250.00|
|01/12/22||Brenda English, Juneau School District Office Support||250.00|
|01/12/22||Eric Runyan,Lineman for Chugach Electric Assn.||250.00|
|01/13/22||Aaron Schutt, Executive-Doyon Limited||250.00|
|01/13/22||John Skidmore, Attorney-State of Alaska||250.00|
|01/14/22||Randy Golding, Sheet Metal Workers Local 23||250.00|
|01/14/22||Steve Nerland, merchant||250.00|
|01/18/22||Leon Morgan, Deputy Commissioner, AK Div if Pub Safety||250.00|
|12/31/21||Brandon Calcaterra, President/Asst Bus Mgr Laborers Local 341||200.00|
|12/31/21||Pat Falon, Anchorage retiree||200.00|
|01/12/22||Ray Lee, retiree||200.00|
|12/30/21||Pat Smutz, former Alaska Union Official (WA)||100.00|
|12/31/21||Andrew Ryan, Business Rep, IBEW Local 1547||100.00|
|12/31/21||Frank Kelly, (Willow)||100.00|
|12/31/21||Matt Shasby, University of Alaska athletic coach||100.00|
|12/31/21||Jennifer Yuhas, Executive Coach Local 71||100.00|
|01/03/22||Suzanne McCarthy, AK Laborers Training School||100.00|
|01/04/22||Michael Mead, CPA CliftonLarsonAllen (WA)||100.00|
|01/05/22||James McMilon, Business Rep. Teamsters Union (FBX)||100.00|
|01/08/22||Tiffany Lund,Media/Marketing Integrity Environmental.com||100.00|
|01/12/22||Margaret Cicharack, Br Ops Mgr Pacific Power Group||100.00|
|01/12/22||Steven Geraghty, Const. Mgr. Great Northwest, Inc. (FBX)||100.00|
|01/12/22||Larry Mooney, Real Estate Business||100.00|
|01/13/22||MaryAnn Ganacias, Ast. Exec Dir., ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 Union||100.00|
|01/14/22||Preston McKay, ENI energy company||100.00|
|01/15/22||Mike Remington (FBX)||100.00|
|01/16/22||Alicia Siira, Exec Dir, Assoc General Contractors of AK||100.00|
|01/17/22||Fred Brown, Ex Dir. Pacific Health Coalition||100.00|
|01/17/22||Barbara Tuckness, retiree||100.00|
|01/14/22||AK State Medical Assn PAC||100.00|
Joe Wright For Alaska Senate District L needs your support!
Family • Safety • Security
Reward for Merrick’s treachery was chairmanship of the House Finance Committee. Of course, following the law in distribution of the Permanent Fund Dividend likely never crossed her mind.
Dear reader, let’s suppose you have a burning issue you need to talk to your elected officials about and it is important enough to pay for a trip to Juneau during session. Your appointment with Rep. Merrick to discuss that matter came AFTER all the people and entities on the contributor list had their full measure of access, because they all have on-going immediate Juneau access to the officials for whom WE voted and they bought.
And, elected officials stay bought in Juneau.
Q: How can that change for District L?
A: New elected officials!
I think when people get down there to Juneau there’s a lot of groupthink because they know constituents just can’t come knock on their door, continued Wright during our conversation. I have been active in the Eagle River/Chugiak community at many levels and I am known for being easy to get a hold of. I WANT to hear from constituents BEFORE special interests to formulate representative opinions.
That’s how it’s supposed to work; elected officials defer to the wishes of a majority of constituents across the wide range who voted in the last election. Campaign funds are a means of getting the word out, making it possible for regular people to run for office. Of the four candidates running in the primary from Senate District L, two will be forwarded to the general election. Joe Wright, as a former Republican party official, wants those two candidates to be Republicans.
Has the Recent Covid Pandemic Distorted Our Expectations?
The part that really was disappointing to me during the COVID pandemic was they kind of hid out in Juneau, you know, they weren’t available–there was a lack of communication, said Wright. We need to get back to normal constituent relations now.
Joe Wright continued: My top issues are Safety, Security and Family. Security means everybody must get the statutory PFD and Food Security is another important part of that. After the earthquake in November 2019 and during the pandemic, Eagle River business Mike’s Meats had plenty of meat because Greg Giannulis owned the Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage slaughterhouse. He has since sold that packing plant and we need to know how that will impact Alaska Food Security. Eagle River has a role in this discussion.
Have Eagle River Chugiak constituents heard anything about this from our current elected legislators? Of course not.
The Safety aspect is: “What are we doing to fix things out here like Artillery Road and the Hiland Interchange?” continued Wright.
Politics is about who gets what. Wright says he watched some $2 Million left over from the Yosemite Drive Upgrade diverted by the three legislators representing Eagle River to the Birchwood Airport and the South Fork Trailhead Wright believes nobody really wanted.
Many of us wanted that money to go to the Starner Bridge over Peters Creek4, said Wright. Finally, the legislature came through with the money kicking and screaming right before an election. The money should have been here last year. Now Aurora Borealis Dr.5 was shut down because it goes across private property. That issue hasn’t been resolved. So, from a safety standpoint it’s important for those people to have reliable transportation in being able to get in and out of neighborhoods.
Funny how that works.
My constituency will be residents from Eagle River, Chugiak, Birchwood, Peters Creek through Eklutna. And, while there are statewide issues that need attention, I will focus on what I can bring back to the community, declared Wright. This area has gotten the short end of the stick. We see a lot of construction projects going on in other parts of the state, but what do we see here? We HAD to rebuild the Glenn Highway Bridge because of the earthquake. That was not an option. But for 30 plus years we’ve dealt with the Artillery Road situation. We’ve got problems in front of Chugiak High School as well as the interchange right in front of Solid Waste Services. It should be about what can we do for the community out here?
The last thing and the most important to me is Family. We spent a lot of money on schools, but we’re not getting the product out of the schools that we really need. It’s a big deal because we are an isolated education community but Eagle River Chugiak has some of the highest performing schools in the district. I think we should be able to build on that.
As the primary election approaches it appears other candidates who take Union money in this scrum may need to watch out for Wright’s sharp elbows.
- 1.RUGBYan ordered formation of players, used to restart play, in which the forwards of a team form up with arms interlocked and heads down, and push forward against a similar group from the opposing side. The ball is thrown into the scrum and the players try to gain possession of it by kicking it backward toward their own side.
- 2.BRITISHa disorderly crowd of people or things.
- Alaska Division of Elections Explanation of Ranked Choice Voting
- In the American and Sicilian Mafia, a made man is a fully initiated member of the Mafia. To become “made”, an associate first must be Italian or of Italian descent and sponsored by another made man. An inductee will be required to take the oath of omertà, the Mafia code of silence and code of honor. After the induction ceremony, the associate becomes a “made man” and holds the rank of soldier (Italian: soldato) in the Mafia hierarchy. Made men are the only ones who can rise through the ranks of the Mafia, from soldier to caporegime, consigliere, underboss, and boss. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Made_man
- Birchwood residents support Starner Bridge replacement, Chugiak Eagle River Star, November 19, 2019. https://www.alaskastar.com/2019-11-19/birchwood-residents-support-starner-bridge-replacement
- Muni ends maintenance on Aurora Borealis Road, Eagle River Star, October 19, 2017 https://www.alaskastar.com/2017-09-27/muni-ends-maintenance-aurora-borealis-road