The incident took place at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce's "Make It Monday" forum on March 18th, 2013. The candidates were discussing their records of political experience, and after Don Smith reminded the audience that he was the father of Anchorage's tax cap, Bettye Davis replied that it was not only experience that matters, but also demographics. Specifically, she said:
"You have 50,000 students in the Anchorage School District, almost. Out of those 50,000 students, I think they deserve to have someone to represent them other than all Caucasians."
Really? So Davis thinks that whites are only qualified to represent whites? Does that mean she also thinks that whites should only be governed by whites? Harold Covington thinks the latter is true, and he's set up the Northwest Front to bring an all-white Northwest American Republic into being. Does Bettye Davis realize that she has now made herself appear to be a political bedfellow of Harold Covington?
The fact that Bettye Davis is race-conscious is not the problem; there is no reason for anyone not to be proud of his or her heritage. Her previous association with the Anchorage Black Caucus and the National Caucus of Black School Board Members can be viewed as a legitimate expression of race-consciousness. The problem is that Davis has expressed bigotry; namely, the idea that whites are somehow not capable of or entitled to representing or governing other races through elective office. The idea behind this thinking is that a governing body is not valid unless it precisely mirrors the demographics of its constituency, and must be "race-normed" to achieve that balance. Imagine the outcry if Don Smith had proclaimed himself to be the "white" candidate. Imagine the furor if Don Smith was revealed to be a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens or the American Freedom Party (he's not known to be a member of either group). Yet not a single media outlet called her out for her remark. Not a single liberal pundit who subsequently piled on Don Young called Bettye Davis out for her remark. And most disturbingly, not a single prominent Republican called her out, either. Of course, the Republican elite are too busy washing their hands of Don Young and cozying up to Latinos rather than prescribing genuine alternatives to Democratic rule.
Both KTVA and the Anchorage Press revealed that Bettye Davis and Don Smith discussed other issues as well. One of the hotter issues was a proposed constitutional amendment, as expressed in HJR1 and SJR9, to allow public funding of private schools and religious schools. Smith supports giving public money for private education, maintaining that the state can fund private schools by adopting rules to prevent the state’s money from being used for religious indoctrination, while Davis is dead set against it. Davis also opposes the state exit exam. Also up for discussion was which candidate had the better background on education issues. Bettye Davis suggested that she brings a better variety of perspectives to the board than Don Smith, citing her background as a foster care system worker and as a psychiatric nurse; that's in addition to her prior legislative service. Smith countered that during his tenure, the school board increased emphasis on vocational education, moving the career and technical education program from an $11 million program to about $19 million, and placing on the ballot bonds which allowed ASD to improve the facilities at all the senior and middle schools. Voters responded favorably to the voc-ed bonds, approving $59 million in school bonds in 2012, with $23.8 million of the total for career and technical education projects. Smith said he also pushed hard for the expanded career programs at school board meetings.
Both candidates clearly bring strengths to the table. But while Don Smith has never given us any reason to doubt the scope of his representation, Bettye Davis, despite the fact that there have been no known substantiated complaints against her by whites in the past, has now cast her willingness to represent all community members equally regardless of race into doubt. This is a character issue, and means that Don Smith is now the only truly viable candidate in the Seat A race.
[DISCLOSURE: I neither work for Don Smith's campaign, nor have I sent him a financial contribution.]