Valley independent Rob Edwardson brings broad professional background to District 34 race

first_imgGovernment | Juneau | State GovernmentValley independent Rob Edwardson brings broad professional background to District 34 raceAugust 2, 2018 by Adelyn Baxter, KTOO Share:Candidate for state House Rob Edwardson speaks with Isis Reilly as Sacred Grounds Cafe during a campaign meet-and-greet. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2018/08/01edwardsonNPR1.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.When he announced he would not seek re-election, Alaska state Rep. Justin Parish said he found a better candidate — his former chief-of-staff Rob Edwardson — to run in his place.The independent House District 34 candidate will face Andi Story in the Aug. 21 Democratic primary.Edwardson hadn’t seriously considered running for state office until Parish approached him.Even his decision to run for Juneau Assembly didn’t require a huge amount of forethought — he decided to run last May and went on to win a seat in the October election.He held “Coffee With Rob” at Sacred Grounds Cafe for voters to come by and talk about the issues.An important part of why he got into politics is to remind voters that representatives work for them, he said.“I wanted to do what I could to maybe open it up. I encourage mothers to bring their children,” Edwardson said. “It should be something normal, that people petition and speak to their elected officials.”Edwardson was born and raised in Ketchikan, and in salmon processing as a teenager.As a 22-year-old, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and moved to Juneau in 1990.His wife and two young children followed soon after.They moved around for different postings until Edwardson retired from active duty after 20 years.The Coast Guard was formative in shaping his ideas about leadership and what it means to serve.“Leadership tends not to be what people think leadership is,” he said. “Leadership is actually using different tools to create an environment where your team can excel.”Before joining Parish’s team, Edwardson worked as a regional manager for the Department of Natural Resources and then for the Legislative Affairs Agency.Edwardson considers himself nonpartisan, which is why he decided to run as an independent.He still would have run as an independent even if the decision by the Alaska Supreme Court had not opened up the Democratic primary to other candidates.“I don’t align 100 percent with Democrats and it seemed kind of disingenuous to put a ‘D’ behind my name just to be in the primary,” Edwardson said.Rob Edwardson accepts congratulations after unofficial returns showed him winning a seat on the Assembly. (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)While he’s served less than a year on the Assembly, topics like Admiralty Island annexation have given him a chance to broaden his connections in the region.Edwardson believes he brings a particular set of skills to the table.“I believe that for the seat that I’m seeking I am the candidate with the real-world experience in energy and natural resources and conservation and budgeting,” Edwardson said.He’s been hearing a lot of concerns from voters about the state’s economy and jobs.“The state has cut about 44 percent of the budget and along with that, hundreds of Juneau jobs,” he said. “I would like to see it not be cut anymore, and if there’s any jobs that come back I would like to see them come to Juneau.”He supports the income tax proposal put forward by the House Majority Coalition during the 2017 session.He also agrees with the Legislature’s decision on a one-time draw from the Permanent Fund Dividend to pay for state services.If elected, Edwardson would like to work toward more reliable school funding.He wants to see a method put in place where the Base Student Allocation — the amount of money the state sends school districts per typical student — will rise with inflation.“What that would provide is more certainty to the school districts, to the teachers and to the parents as far as funding goes rather than kind of the yo-yo effect that goes on now, where there might not be a BSA increase for years,” he said.Richard Peterson recently endorsed Edwardson on KINY.The president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska said it was a personal endorsement and not on behalf of the tribe.His Haida heritage a point of pride, Edwardson has been active in culture and language preservation with his family.In his free time, he also dances with local dance group Woosh.ji.een. He grew up dancing with his grandparents in Ketchikan.“Like any dance group it’s more than just a dance group that gets together, it’s more of a family group,” Edwardson said. “You celebrate victories and you grieve with people,”Edwardson’s campaign had raised about $4,400 as of July 23, according to campaign filings.Early voting in the Democratic primary begins Aug. 6.For more candidate profiles and election information, visit ktoo.org/elections.Share this story:last_img

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