The democratic challenger to Alaska’s longest-serving delegate to
Washington D.C. will be in Kodiak for Crab Fest. Twenty-nine-year-old
Forest Dunbar is Representative Don Young’s main competitor this year,
though perennial candidate Frank Vondezaar of Homer has also filed as a
Democrat. Dunbar said his reason for seeking Alaska’s lone U.S. House
seat is simple: he believes Congressman Young is no longer as
influential as he once was.
“He’s been stripped of his ability to
chair committees because of his corruption allegations, and he’s
isolated within his own party and he’s incapable of working with this
Dunbar is a lifelong Alaskan, growing up in
Eagle and Cordova, where he worked as a commercial fisherman. After high
school, he was an intern for Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski and later a
part time staff member for Guam Representative Madeliene Bordallo while
attending American University in Washington D.C.
“I had the
opportunity to grow up in rural Alaska, but I also had the chance to
live and work in Washington D.C. and get experience there. And because
of that, I follow D.C. and Congress pretty closely, and it’s just
undeniable that Congress at present is dysfunctional and terrible. And
our congressman, although I actually know him and met him and have no
personal gripe against him, he is part of that problem. And I know our
state can do better and have better representation and better
representation – have more effective representation. And that’s why I
decided to run. I don’t think Congressman Young has been effective for
about the last eight years.”
He added that Young’s 40-plus-year
election winning streak is probably because voters don’t think there was
a viable alternative.
Dunbar earned a master’s degree in public
policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a
law degree from Yale. He’s served in the Peace Corps, and was
commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the Alaska Army National Guard
just less a year ago, where he serves as a judge advocate. Unlike senate
candidate Dan Sullivan, Dunbar feels it’s improper to try and
capitalize on his military service for political gain.
to keep politics and the military strictly separated. We don’t put any
pictures of me in uniform up on our website. You know it’s something I’m
very proud of, but it’s also something when my uniform is on, the
campaign stops for me and hwen I’m campaigning, I try not mix it with my
experience in the army.”
Sullivan, a Republican seeking the
chance to run against incumbent Democrat Mark Begich, features his
service in the Marines prominently in his advertising.
says that everywhere he goes, one question he often hears is about his
position on the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay.
“I grew up
in a commercial fishing town. I was a commercial fisherman and had the
chance to work on seiners for salmon. I also have a number of friends
who work and live out in the Bristol Bay region. And I think where I
come down it is, while I’m generally pro-mining and I think there are
good mining projects that should go forward, I don’t believe Pebble is
one of them. I just think it’s too much of a risk to put the world’s
largest open pit mine over its most abundant salmon streams.”
Dunbar, who by the way is unrelated to the Kodiak Dunbars, will be in
Kodiak Friday and Saturday for Crab Fest. A reception will be held at 6
p.m. Friday in the home of borough Assemblyman Dave Kaplan, and another
will be at Kodiak Island Brewing Company Saturday at 4 p.m.