We don’t hear a lot from Carolyn “Care” Clift, who’s running for governor on the Libertarian ticket, and one of two women running for statewide office. (The other is Maria Rensel, who’s running for lt. gov. on the Alaska Constitution Party ticket.) So I thought I’d ask her a few questions.
First some background: Clift moved from Arizona to Alaska with her husband Rob in 1979 to Aniak, where, while raising three children, she held various jobs, mostly in the education field. In 1996, Clift was hired by the Anchorage School District to teach special education, which she did for 17 years. Clift was always a libertarian, but became more involved with the Alaska Libertarian Party in 2010, after she retired from full-time teaching. While teaching part-time, she served as the communications director, treasurer, and now secretary of the Alaska Libertarian Party. When the question of who could run as governor came up, Clift volunteered. She feels that her background in organizational skills in both rural and urban settings gives her the insight to meet Alaska’s needs.
How are you different from the two major party candidates running for governor?
I am different from the two major party candidates running for governor in many ways! I am a woman, endorsed by the Alaska Women for Political Action (AWPA) because of my stance on individual rights. I am not a lawyer, and I have no political experience, and no organizations that I have to please. My campaign contributions are few, and mostly from family and fellow Libertarians.
I lived in rural Alaska for over 16 years. While both Parnell and Walker claim to be fiscally conservative, Parnell is projected to have the three largest budget “deficits” in state history. Walker’s platform will cost the state even more money than Parnell’s, because he has promised to expand Medicaid, to increase the Student Base Allowance, build an LNG line with state money, and create more union jobs (with a higher “minimum” wage). Parnell has promised to build the Juneau Access road, which is popular only in Juneau, and will cost half a billion dollars. Neither candidate wants to advance the cause of liberty, protect property, or support families.
Where do you stand on a woman’s right to choose?
On a woman’s right to choose, libertarians believe that it is a conscientious decision made by a woman and her family/faith in complete medical privacy, without government interference. A woman has the right to make decisions about her own body. I call it “pro-responsibility” because we libertarians also believe that the decision should be financed by the family resources, not the state’s. If you ask the state to pay for your decision, you lose control over that decision! That does not mean that I would veto Medicaid funding. I am disgusted that contraception was left out of SB 49, because I know the State is running a baby mill and OCS is making money on adoptions. (This is a huge scandal and Parnell has been totally aware of it; it would be great if someone in the media would listen.)
What do you think about the process by which we select judges in Alaska? Do you think there needs to be any change?
The Alaska constitution provides for the selection of judges by merit; that is, judges are selected on the basis of their qualifications, rather than on their political or social connections. The governor is given a slate of candidates from the Alaska Judicial Council. The AJC is supposed to have done a thorough investigation of all the names going forward. As governor, I would choose to interview the candidates myself and send back the whole slate if I did not approve of any of them. The governor makes the decision of who becomes a judge.
While the judges are serving, the AJC takes comments from the public and also interviews court employees, lawyers, etc. They pass these comments on to another organization, the ACJC. (Alaska Council on Judicial Conduct). Between these two organizations, the judges are reviewed and recommended for re-election (or not). Then the public gets to vote on retention of each judge.
So, who we elect for governor has a lot of power in the initial selection, and may be swayed by political or social favors. That’s why I have a large support group that wants me elected.
When I am governor, the public will be informed of their rights to express their opinions to the AJC and the ACJC and there will be no revenge or retribution. I have been told that when court cases are over and the defendant makes a complaint about possible corruption, state agencies will make life even more difficult for the complainant. For instance, in a termination of parental rights, OCS will think of ways to refuse a foster care license to the grandparent so that the child will be placed with a non-relative (money involved). (I have seen the documents).
I feel that the system is corrupt, and a full investigation needs to be made. As to citizens voting, perhaps the complaints should be made public (with no names, of course) and also the kudos. If a judge always rules for the state OCS in parental rights termination cases (for instance), the public should be able to see the judge’s record.
Where do you stand on Medicaid expansion?
Medicaid should not be expanded because in two years, the “100% paid” by the federal government will end. Then the state will have to pick up their matching share of all Medicaid bills. I also have read that the Medicaid billing system has not been running correctly for four years, and that providers are not being paid. How will expanding Medicaid help?
What single thing would you propose to make schools better?
To make school better, we need more parental involvement. I was at Alaska Native Cultural Charter School for three years, and I saw first-hand how whole family involvement improves a school in both attitude and academics. Parents were involved in every aspect of the school, and they even pitched in to do maintenance, repairs, special crafts classes, etc., and the students thrived. Let the parents be part of deciding how the money is spent, etc.
How would you approach the state budget shortfall? Be specific
My specific plan for dealing with the budget shortfall is to take a hard look at the operational budget. We would like to see the budget under $5.5 billion. I’ll propose a budget that is less than $5 billion, by making proportional cuts in every department not mandated by the Alaska Constitution. If the Legislature wants a larger budget than that, I will get out my red teacher’s pen and cut. All department administration, including the Governor’s office, will take a pay cut of 10%. How will I determine what to cut? First, I will look at mandatory, Alaska-Constitution-authorized programs. Education, for instance, cannot be cut. Mandatory programs cannot be cut, unless they are wasteful or corrupt. Then I will determine how much over budget the rest of the expenses are, and determine what percent I need to cut ACROSS THE BOARD to get below the $5 billion line. Every program will be cut by the same percent, with an emphasis on “pork” for single locations. That’s the simple version… of course I will surround myself with experts. I would love to receive applications for new department heads now!
Did you support SB 21? If so, why? If not, what would you propose and for what effect?
Both Aces and SB21 are about taxes and growing government. SB 21 was more business friendly, so I supported the flat tax over the progressivity tax of ACES. I think that instead of taxing the oil companies for essentially buying our oil, all of the payments should be called royalties and 25% of the money would have to go into the Permanent Fund as mandated in the Alaska Constitution. Tax money can be spent, 100%, but only 75% of royalties, rents, and revenues can be spent.
As I woman, have you experienced institutional sexism in Alaska? If so, how and when and is there anything that government can do about it?
I experienced no sexism as a teacher. The only institutional sexism is in the Republicans’ attitude that women have no rights to control their own families. It is manifested in the attitude of certain talk show hosts that they can spend an entire half-hour segment talking about nothing but abortion… they don’t want to know my views on any other issue. So, what does that mean? Do they think I don’t know how to balance a budget, or meet a payroll, or organize a department? Do they think I won’t be a good leader because I am a woman? Do they think I don’t understand financial accounting and business? This whole National Guard scandal is because men would not listen to the women, and whistle-blowers were afraid they would lose their jobs.