'Vote no on 1' group forms to oppose repeal of oil tax reform

A group of Alaskans has formed to oppose the repeal of a bill reducing state oil taxes. The “Vote No on 1” campaign was announced Nov. 12 by Alaska business and labor leaders to fight a ballot measure that would appear on the August 2014 primary election ballot asking voters to repeal Senate Bill 21, which was passed by the Legislature in April.

The bill changes the state oil production tax, reducing the tax in an effort to stimulate new investment in aging North Slope oil fields and in exploration. Oil production on the slope is now declining at about 6 percent a year and investment has flagged compared with other U.S. states.

Shortly after the Legislature passed the bill, critics formed “Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway” and organized a petition drive for a ballot proposition to repeal the measure. Enough signatures were gathered and the proposition has now been approved to appear on the ballot.

“No on 1” co-chairs are Bob Berto of Ketchikan; Rick Boyles of Anchorage; Leslie Wien Hajdukovich of Fairbanks; Linda Leary of Anchorage; and Rick Mystrom of Anchorage. The treasurer is Chuck Spinelli of Anchorage. The group expects to add supporters in the coming weeks, and plans to formally kick off its campaign later this year.

“This is an issue that deeply impacts Alaska’s economic future, and there will be spirited debate over the next ten months,” said Leslie Wien Hajdukovich, one of the Vote No on 1 group co-chairs. “Our goal will be to ensure voters understand the complex issues at stake, have accurate information, and ultimately make a decision to oppose the repeal measure,” added Rick Boyles, another Vote No on 1 co-chair.

Berto, 60, of Ketchikan, has longtime experience in tourism, aviation and marine services in Southeast Alaska. He is currently president of Coastal Helicopters and TEMSCO Helicopters with operations in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg.

Boyles, 56, of Anchorage, has held leadership positions in organized labor in Alaska for more than 20 years, and now serves as the Principal Officer of the Teamsters Local 959, based in Anchorage. He also serves as a Trustee for the Fairbanks Pipeline Training Center Trust and the Teamsters’ Pension and Health & Welfare Trusts.

Hajdukovich, 47, has served on the school board in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District for six years, including a term as board president from 2007 to 2010. She also has helped lead local school bond ballot measures and served as a school PTA president. She is a lifelong resident of Fairbanks. Her husband, Bob, is the president and CEO of Era Alaska.

Leary, 53, of Anchorage recently worked for 28 years in Alaska’s transportation industry, serving as a part-owner and president of Carlile Transportations Systems. Leary currently serves as the chair of the Alaska Railroad Board and on the Rasmuson Foundation Board.

Mystrom, 69, is a former two-term mayor of Anchorage. For many years, Mystrom ran a successful advertising agency, and was recognized as Alaska’s Small Business Person of the Year and as an Alaska Business Hall of Fame inductee. He has been a trustee of the University of Alaska Foundation and was founder of the Bridge Builders, a group that promotes cultural diversity.

Treasurer Chuck Spinelli, 64, is head of family-owned Spinell Homes of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest homebuilder. Spinell Homes has been in business in Alaska since 1987, and Chuck Spinelli previously has served as president of the Alaska State Home Builders Association and the Anchorage Home Builders Association.

Willis Lyford, an Anchorage marketing and public affairs executive, will serve as Vote No on 1’s campaign director.

“Our campaign will bring together Alaskans from across the state. Over the coming months we will expand our organization to provide information about the benefits of oil tax reform passed by the Alaska Legislature this spring, and how they positively impact Alaska’s economic future,” said Lyford.

11/14/2013 - 7:32am