Saturday, March 03, 2007

Jason Dowell - A Viable Libertarian Alternative To Dan Coffey In The Anchorage Midtown Assembly Race

This year's Anchorage Midtown Assembly race offers more than your typical Tweedledee-vs.-Tweedledum choice with the entry of Libertarian candidate Jason Dowell (pictured at left courtesy of KTUU) into the fray. The other candidates for the Midtown seat are incumbent Republican Dan Coffey and challenger Elvi Gray-Jackson. Both are apostles of big government.

Unlike many libertarian candidates in Alaska who allow themselves to be sidetracked into dead-end issues such as teenage curfews, draft registration, and airships, thus perpetuating the establishment's marginalization and caricaturization of libertarians, Jason Dowell is a much more serious and viable candidate. As state chairman of the Alaska Libertarian Party, Dowell established a track record as a serious, proven boots-on-the-ground activist by his successful co-sponsorship of the campaign to repeal Anchorage's draconian anti-smoking ordinance passed last summer. He was smart enough to launch the campaign at one of Alaska's most important and visible venues - the Alaska State Fair. Securing a booth and properly staffing it, the Alaska Libertarian Party along with the Stomp the Ban campaign successfully awakened and educated countless fairgoers to the dangers to the sanctity of private property posed by the anti-smoking ordinance.

Click HERE to view Proposition 1, along with the other propositions on the ballot.

Like East Anchorage's Libertarian candidate Alex Crawford, Jason Dowell's primary campaign issue is repeal of this anti-smoking ordinance passed in August 2006. The ordinance, (AO 2006-86(S)), which takes effect on July 1, 2007, expands the previous ordinance passed in 2000 by prohibiting smoking in enclosed areas in private residences when child care is provided for a fee, any place of employment with one or more employees, bars, retail tobacco shops, private clubs that are open to the public, private residences when providing child care services for a fee, within 50 feet of the entrance to any hospital or clinic; within 20 feet of Municipal and School District office buildings. The Alaska Libertarian Party, along with Stomp The Ban, waged a smart and successful campaign to get a repeal initiative, Proposition 1, on the municipal ballot for the April 3rd election.

And the repeal ordinance is much more about the sanctity of private property than about any so-called "right to smoke". By passing the anti-smoking ordinance, the Anchorage Municipal Assembly established the dangerous precedent for reaching into people's private homes and businesses and regulating or restricting lawful practices. At the time of passage, 200 social establishments in Anchorage were already smoke-free; only 90 allowed smoking. Patrons desiring a non-smoking venue already had ample choice. In addition, workers at establishments permitting smoking aren't exactly "chained to the oars"; they are free to seek employment at any non-smoking establishment. So the anti-smoking ordinance really wasn't about the "protection" of people against "involuntary" second-hand smoke; it was more a test as to how far government can go in intruding into the personal lives of individuals. And unfortunately, the lemmings in the community swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Open up wide and say "Kwa"!

And Dan Coffey, along with his tag team Assembly partner Dick Traini, were the primary architects of the anti-smoking ordinance. However, this just scratches the surface. During his tenure on the Assembly, Coffey has voted for other intrusive and invasive measures such as the bicycle helmet ordinance, a previous anti-smoking ordinance in 2000, and higher local tobacco taxes. This shows that Dan Coffey is what we would call a "RINO"; Republican in name only. Republicans once believed in smaller, less intrusive and more accountable government. Not any more! Since the neocons hijacked the Republican Party, only occasional patriots like Governor Sarah Palin, Rep. Vic Kohring, Assemblyman Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Bob Lynn stand for traditional Republican principles. As a matter of fact, of current Assembly members, only Debbie Ossiander and Dan Sullivan had the courage to vote against measure (Anna Fairclough also voted against it, but she has since "graduated" to the Alaska State Legislature).

Consequently, it's time Midtown district voters consider making Dan Coffey pay the price for his compromise of classic Republican principles. Elvi Gray-Jackson won't promote any real change; in fact, she's more an apostle of big government than Coffey. This leaves Jason Dowell. I'll be straight - voting for Jason Dowell increases the chance of Elvi Gray-Jackson winning the election; Dowell is much more likely to take votes from Coffey than from Gray-Jackson. However, this loss will most likely be offset by the election of conservative Sherri Jackson to the Assembly to replace Pamela Jennings as the West Anchorage representative. But by voting for Jason Dowell, Midtown voters not only will have the satisfaction of voting their consciences, but may also make Dan Coffey pay the price for his intrusive, oppressive, and invasive measures by returning him to the private sector.

And don't rule out victory for Dowell. One other libertarian actually won an election here in Alaska. Sara Chambers was elected to the Juneau City Council in 2006. Since Jason Dowell has no campaign website, you can e-mail him at

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