U.S. House Candidate Forrest Dunbar Talks Rural Alaska Issues

by Ben Matheson on July 30, 2014

U.S. House Candidate Forrest Dunbar visited Bethel in July 2014.  Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

U.S. House Candidate Forrest Dunbar visited Bethel in July 2014. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

U.S. Representative Don Young’s main opponent in this fall’s U.S. House Election was not born until Young had been in office for a decade. Forrest Dunbar visited Bethel last week.

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Alaska’s only House Representative, Republican Don Young is seeking his 22nd term in office, while 29-year old Democrat Forrest Dunbar is traveling the state in search of his first.

“…and Don Young, he is what he is today, and for the last six years, he has not been effective, he is not a powerful Congressman anymore and he will never be again,” said Dunbar.

Dunbar grew up in Eagle, a town of less than 100, on the Yukon near the Canadian border until age 7, when he moved to Cordova on Prince William Sound.

“It’s the single largest thing that forms who I am and the values I have is that experience growing up in rural Alaska in Eagle and Cordova,” said Dunbar.

He worked summers as a commercial fishermen and wildlife firefighter. After college in Washington D.C., the Peace Corps took him to Kazakhstan, then more school at Harvard, and at Yale Law school. He’s worked as an attorney including with the Office of Public Advocacy.

Dunbar says he’s spoken with a lot of people concerned about the King Salmon crisis. Dunbar says he’s for tribes taking on co-management responsibilities for fish.

“Maybe that’s the mechanism to do it, maybe there will be some other mechanism to do it. But there’s absolutely no question that these groups need to have a seat at the table and be able to work on protecting the fishery,” said Dunbar.

The price of energy is another rural Alaska reality that Dunbar says is driving people out of their homes and that he could help address in Congress.

“It’s not because of some hippie greenie perspective. It’s a practical reality. We need alternative energy in the bush, so we can import less heating oil and less diesel and make those things more affordable too. We need to find low cost distributed small scale power generation for the bush,” said Dunbar.

One recent addition to Dunbar’s long resume is that he was commissioned as an Officer in Alaska Army National Guard as JAG attorney.

Dunbar will appear on the primary ballot this august along with Democrat Frank J. Vondersaar. Democrat Matt Moore dropped out of the race to run for the state house.

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