Anchorage, AK – Defend Alaska, a nonpartisan independent expenditure group, has formed in response to the legislature’s inability to overturn Governor Dunleavy’s budget vetoes.
“We thank every legislator who, understanding the complexities of our state, stood with Alaskans in voting to override the Governor’s vetoes. With accountability for our elected leaders ultimately residing with the people, there continues to be hope for our University system, artists, businesses and our elders and our youth. It is never too late to assert the Alaska we know is possible,” said Cordelia Kellie, co-chair of the group.
Defend Alaska will fund a dynamic campaign focusing on swing-district legislators who continue to align with the Governor’s vetoes. The group will elevate real stories of the impacts to Alaskans caused by political gridlock and cuts, and keep actions from this session visible through the next election in 2020.
After publishing a Facebook page and donation platform on July 11, Defend Alaska raised over $5000 in one week from small donations across the state. Defend Alaska has started to run online advertisements on social media as well as in local media outlets.
The group is chaired by Cordelia Kellie, Barbara Blake, Dr. James O’Malley Jr., Joe Nelson, and Aaron Welterlen.
“Alaska is an incredible place with incredible people that for thousands of years prioritized Alaskan children, Elders and other vulnerable peoples. We all have the opportunity to work in partnership with Tribes, Native organizations and others who also care deeply about our collective long-term sustainable future. When we take care of our lands, waters, animals, and each other-we all thrive. Alaska’s future generations deserve leaders that put Alaska first and not outside interests, partisanship, or politics.” said co-chair Blake.
Alaskans have emailed and called legislators by the thousands imploring their elected officials to override the Governor’s vetoes. However, some officials have continued to support the Governor’s drastic and immediate cuts to the state budget. Defend Alaska seeks to hold legislators politically accountable for the avoidable, detrimental impacts to real Alaskan lives.
“If these cuts go through, there will be more human suffering than we have seen in a long time in this state. And it’s entirely preventable,” said co-chair Dr. O’Malley.
“These cuts could mean the demise of companies in all industries across the state — mine included. I won’t stand by while years of hard work could be wiped away by irresponsible votes in Juneau,” said co-chair Welterlen.
“Alaska is a wealthy state and these cuts are unnecessary. The impact they will have on our young, our elderly and our most vulnerable is unconscionable. As Alaskans, we can and should find a common ground that attracts and retains our best and brightest,” said co-chair Nelson.
Defend Alaska expects to continue their accountability work through statewide elections in 2020. The group welcomes all Alaskans – regardless of political affiliation or location – to join their work in striving for a future Alaska where our youth, parents, and elders can thrive.