Q&A with 2022 Alaska U.S. Senate candidate Shoshana Gungurstein
The Alaska Beacon asked Alaska’s 19 U.S. Senate candidates to answer a 15-question survey about their positions on a variety of issues. Read all of their responses here. Answers have not been edited.
Shoshana Gungurstein, nonpartisan candidate from Juneau
Do you believe former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent?
Should Election Day be a federal holiday?
Don Young was a longtime supporter of statehood for Puerto Rico. Do you support statehood for Puerto Rico?
Should marijuana be legalized federally?
Would you vote in favor of a bill that codifies abortion rights in US law?
What do you think about the overturning of Roe, and what actions should Congress take on abortion and contraception?
As a non-partisan, independent candidate for the US Senate, I strongly believe in liberty, privacy and freedom for all Alaskans and all Americans. This includes the rights of individuals to decide what they should do with their own bodies, for their own health. Roe vs. Wade was law of the land for more than 50 years, which makes it precedent law and overturning it was against the legal doctrine of Stare Decisis. People’s trust in the Supreme Court’s long-standing virtue of non-partisanship is diminishing. As a Senator, I will promptly sponsor a bill to codify into law a woman’s right to privacy and access to contraception and abortion.
What’s Alaska’s biggest need, and how would you address it?
In one word — autonomy! Federal overreach in regulating fishing, land management, oil & gas development, timber, hunting, road & bridge construction, and regional development has made Alaska unnecessarily beholden to DC. We value listening and learning from our local communities while incorporating knowledge from our rich Native Alaskan heritage. We know best when to hunt, harvest, pump, mine, and how to develop our state. We can strike a balance between strong environmental stewardship and fostering development and growth for our people. We chose statehood in 1959 for self-determination. In recent years, DC has been taking our autonomy away from us. I will change this to make DC Pro-Alaska. By sponsoring bills that are pro-Alaska development, I will be able to counteract DC’s encroachment on our state’s autonomy.
How should Congress reduce the threat of gun violence and mass shootings?
Encouraging responsible gun ownership including background checks and red flag laws can curb gun violence. Responsible ownership is a hallmark of most Alaskan gun owners and our way of life should be recognized as a paradigm for the Lower 48.
What steps should Congress take to balance Alaska’s status as an oil state with the need to address climate change?
We are not an oil state. We are an abundant resource state with resourceful people that will benefit from further economic diversification. We were once an oil state, but in recent years our average production has fallen behind North Dakota, Texas and almost tied with California, because the Federal government is shutting off our oil fields and limiting our potential to develop resources. Climate change is not a political buzzword, we feel its impacts every day here in Alaska. Our environmental stewardship approach to resource development is reflected in the rigorous environmental reviews we conduct. Local community comments and involvement are key for all our project development. Congress can no longer ignore what Alaskans are saying and should follow our lead. Alaska must have the ability to develop its resources in an environmentally feasible manner. We take pride in our biodiversity and natural resources. We will mitigate harmful CO2 emissions and protect our Caribou and Polar Bear populations, all while also making sure we can harvest our natural resources responsibly. Congress should make climate change a national priority, but Alaska should not be singled out as the one state where the federal government limits development.
What changes or updates do you want to see in fisheries management?
This year, in many parts of the state, salmon runs have been so low that subsistence fishing and commercial crabbing has been closed. Foremost, we must focus on sustainable and renewable harvest for our kids and grandkids. We must make sure Alaskans have access to subsistence & cultural harvest as well as sustainable commercial fishing. We have to make sure pathways exist for locals to get into commercial fishing. Out-of-state enterprises shouldn’t be the only ones driving this economic sector.
Should Congress act to protect voting rights and encourage voting, and if so, how?
It is our cherished civic duty to vote and have all voices counted. This is not a partisan issue; it is an American issue. Democracy depends on the right to vote. Congress must make voting efficient and accessible. There should be strong checks and balances against voter fraud and abuse. In our last primary special election to fill Don Young’s congressional seat, thousands of ballots, mostly in rural Alaska ended up being disqualified. All voices matter and all legal votes should count.
Alaska has the highest health care costs in the nation. What will you do to reduce costs and improve access to services?
I will make sure Congress dedicates all available federal funds necessary for an improved medical infrastructure as well as better transportation within the state so that rural and urban Alaskans have more accessible quality healthcare. It’s time we open a Medical School in the state.
I believe in a free-market economy and the government should stay out of business to let it thrive. That said, the US government is one of the main buyers of expensive pharmaceuticals and medical devices through Medicare and other programs, and the government should be able to negotiate better prices with the drug and medical device companies as other countries have done. As a Senator, I will draft policy to better negotiate lower prices so that Alaskans and all Americans can afford much needed life sustaining drugs and access to medical devices. We have to create a new balance where citizens and free markets can coexist and thrive.
How should Congress protect the rights of LGBTQ Alaskans?
As Alaska’s next Senator, I will proudly represent all Alaskans regardless of their age, race, religion, culture, gender, or sexual orientation. Protecting liberty, privacy and freedom includes protecting the rights of every Alaskan. Congress must codify into law the protection of all Americans to be who they want to be and love whomever they want to love free from government and political oversight and control. All rights equally afforded including marriage.
Alaska families say they’re struggling financially in a variety of ways, including with child care. What actions should Congress take to support families with children?
Children are our future. We must support Alaskans with better childcare benefits as it will result in individuals meaningfully contributing to the workforce. I propose childcare subsidies for working individuals. Affordable childcare has become a necessity when so many of our workers struggle to afford basic needs. As a society, we must come together and provide as much support as we can. Parents and guardians should not feel overwhelmed and mental health should not suffer as a result of undue financial burden from childcare.
What criteria would you use to judge the fitness of a judicial candidate?
I will judge the judicial candidate based on prior rulings. My criteria of fitness is non-partisan, impartial analysis of legal issues.