You won’t see Bill Walker and Craig Fleener on this August’s primary ballot. As independents they will skip the primary and appear on the November ballot. The two are campaigning to take on Governor Sean Parnell and the likely Democratic Nominee, Byron Mallot.
Walker says he’s running for governor because he believes the state is falling behind.
“Alaska is broken and we need to fix it. The only one who is going to fix it I believe is someone with our background, our knowledge, our passion, and our total disregard of the political consequences of our decision,” said Walker.
Walker is the former mayor of Valdez and has worked in oil and gas law. Building a gas pipeline was one of his signature platforms when he ran for governor in 2010. Since then, the state has shifted away from the idea of a line to the lower 48 to a plan for exporting liquefied natural gas. He’s highly critical of the direction Governor Sean Parnell and the legislature went this year.
“The problem is when you’re at the back of the train acting like you’re in control it doesn’t work that way. Until we assume the position we should as the owner of the resource as an owner state … here’s what we’re going to do in such a way to make sure that all parts of Alaska benefit. When a large volume line crosses the Yukon river, there should be an offtake there, a location to make compressed natural gas, put it on barges, and move it up and down the river like the way they do it in other parts of the world,” said Walker.
Walker’s running mate Craig Fleener is originally from Fort Yukon. He’s a military veteran and has worked in wildlife and fisheries since the early 90s, moving up to the position of deputy Fish and Game commissioner. As someone who spent many years on the upper Yukon, he says he doesn’t have any easy answers for the diminished king salmon runs in western Alaska, but he wants to see more local involvement.
“We need to involve more people,, we need work together to find solutions we agree on. I don’t know what those solutions are today. But I do know that we absolutely positively have to manage for escapement for the future, that has to be number one. And then beyond that we have the number one priority of meeting escapement needs. That still has to be the priority,” said Fleener.
Walker and Fleener visited Bethel in March and attended the Cama-i celebration.