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Debra Call Op-Ed: Why I’m running with Mark Begich

I’m running for lieutenant governor with Mark Begich because I’m optimistic about our future. With the right leadership and vision, I have no doubt we will find creative solutions to the challenges our state faces.

Like so many Alaskans, I spent the weeks and months before to the filing deadline worried about our future and our state’s lack of progress. Running for office was new to me, but I knew I couldn’t just sit back and complain if I wasn’t going to be a part of the solution.

So when Mark called, I was ready.

As a Dena’ina Athabascan, I have deep roots here. My grandmother set up her fish camp on the beach of Cook Inlet, on what is now Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. She fed 13 kids with the fish she caught and raised a vibrant family on our ancestral lands. I was born in Palmer, and have lived here my entire life. I did go Outside to earn my college degree and MBA, but I always knew I would I come back home to raise a family and have a career.

I have built my career around working with Alaskans and finding creative approaches to building a better future for communities and villages across the state.

In my years of experience managing large projects, whether working for Native corporations and nonprofits, in the oil and gas industry, or most recently as director of operations for Alaska Native Heritage Center, I know what it takes to make sure projects are completed on time, on budget, and at the highest level of competency. When my staff would come to me with problems, we worked together to find solutions.

From my own experience helping set up a fish hatchery in Port Graham, building up tourism in Gambell and Kodiak, or working with local stores in villages, I know rural Alaska has tremendous untapped potential to be a major economic driver if we invest in it.

And then there is my true passion – workforce development. When I ran the Native hire program at Alyeska Pipeline, I saw firsthand what happens when you take some of the hardest working people in the world and equip them with the skills they need to succeed. They build a first-rate economy that allows our state to enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the country.

For example, when I chaired the Alaska Jobs Council, we noticed that there was a disconnect between job seekers and companies trying to hire. So I spearheaded an initiative to put all those elements into a central hub: a “one-stop shop” for employment. Everyone benefited.

There is work to be done, but if we come together and focus on our future – not politics – I know we will build a better Alaska for our children and grandchildren. That is why teaming up with Mark Begich and running a campaign about solutions and progress was a no-brainer for me. Whether as mayor of Anchorage or as our U.S. Senator, Mark has proven he has the vision, values, and experience to lead. He is known for his ability to effectively manage government and for his in-depth understanding of our state’s issues. And most of all, Mark is known as a hard worker.

Alaskans are resilient people. When we come together, there is no problem we can’t solve. I’m running for lieutenant governor because I want to work with Mark to put faith and vision back into our state leadership. Alaskans deserve better, we can do better, and when Mark Begich and I are elected, we will do better.