Kenai Borough president takes on incumbent Olson
Kenai Peninsula Borough President Gary Knopp is challenging incumbent Rep. Kurt Olson for the House seat representing Kenai and Soldotna in District 29.
Olson said he’s seeking reelection because the state is not finished with the in-state gasline or making the taxes more competitive. As president of the borough, Knopp said he’s familiar with the community’s issues plus those of the state and that his time spent in Juneau and with the delegation will make his run a natural transition.
Both candidates say the fact that more than 90 percent of the state’s revenue stream comes from oil taxation is a big deal to their campaigns. Olson was one of 14 in the House that voted against ACES and that he also voted against the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.
“That probably says what my position is. It hasn’t changed, I might add,” Olson said.
Knopp said he needs to study more about ACES because he was more familiar with previous tax systems. He said he will learn more about the big picture, how much production is going into the pipeline and how the tax structure really works.
“I need to know before I decide are they being taxed excessively or are the residents of Alaska getting their fair share,” he said. “I don’t have a firm position on it until I understand the issue fully.”
Olson said oil is a high priority in his district because it has one of the highest percentages of people working in the industry. He said this makes employment a big issue. His priority will be in-state gas, including tying North Slope gas to existing infrastructure on the Kenai Peninsula.
“Gas and jobs are tied together,” Olson said.
Knopp said the state’s revenue sharing program is a big issue for his district. He said it stimulates the economy and keeps the tax base low. He said the district also needs to be kept ahead if the revenues decline. His two big priorities are the oil tax legislation and to work with the governor about more legislative oversight when it comes to adopting regulations.
“I think there are regulations that are adopted though agencies that wouldn’t necessarily pass the legislative process,” Knopp said.
Olson said his ability to work with people and finding a consensus whenever possible makes him a good candidate for public office.
“I find if everybody is a part of the solution, that seems to last rather than having something one-sided,” he said.
Knopp said his time in local government, the borough’s Board of Equalization, and industry experience through Arco Alaska will go a long way in his legislative duties. He said background in oil and gas and being a small business owner helps align him with the people.
“One of my goals is to ease some of the department regulations and make life a little simpler for small business owners and for residents as a whole,” he said.
House District 29
Kurt E. Olson* (R)
Occupation: Full-time state senator
Political history: Elected to Alaska House in 2004
Phone: (907) 260-4822
Gary A. Knopp (R)
Occupation: General contractor
Political history: Kenai Borough Assembly member, 2006-09, current president
Phone: (907) 283-9494
Email: [email protected]