A former mayor of the Southeast Alaska community of Hoonah is hoping to win a seat in the Alaska House this fall. Kenny Karl Skaflestad will have to take on a challenger in the Republican primary in August before running against a three-term incumbent in November.
The 58-year-old Skaflestad has worked in the construction industry in many small towns around the state. He has also commercial fished as a power troller for salmon and he plans to use his boat and the Alaska Marine Highway to help him visit the many small communities in House District 35.
“Where I can I’ll do that and where I can’t I’ll sail around and be visiting every single town this district has, it covers a lot of miles,” Skaflestad said.
The district covers many of the island communities of the central panhandle from Prince of Wales Island in the south stretching to Elfin Cove and Skaflestad’s hometown of Hoonah in the north, and including Sitka, Angoon, Petersburg, Kake and Craig.
Skaflestad has been mayor of Hoonah, also served on the city council there and was public works director. He was born in Juneau and raised in Hoonah. He spent some of his high school years in Petersburg and finished up high school in the Capital City. Skaflestad said that he’s already up to speed working with the legislature.
“With Hoonah being so close to Juneau I found that it served our purposes at the city for us to get a little more contiguous with the legislature and the state agencies, take advantage of that geographical situation,” he said. “So, with that, I spent a good deal of time familiarizing and figuring out the works in Juneau and had some success with being able to have access to the legislature and those agencies.”
He lists his priorities as the Alaska Marine Highway System, economic diversity and smaller government. Skaflestad said there are areas in state spending that should be cut.
“I think that government often times gets exploded and is with the best intentions in mind is involved in areas that it really doesn’t have to be involved in,” he said. “I’m an advocate for a much smaller, less government in the lives of the people.”
With his background in construction Skaflestad calls himself pro-development. He explained he has conservative views on most topics and his views mesh with those of the Republican party.
“I’m very moderate, devoted to the Republican views, to the declarations of the party, I’ve read through them and on every point I find a familiarity with my own sense of values,” Skaflestad said. “I certainly feel that the House of Representatives, certainly district 35 would be much, much better suited to have a Republican representative in the House.”
The house seat hasn’t been held by a Republican since Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka won by 32 votes over incumbent Bill Thomas of Haines in 2012. Since then he’s had much larger margins of victory over Republican challengers from Petersburg and Sitka.
Skaflestad is one of two challenging for the Republican nomination in the August primary. Sitka surgeon Richard Wein is also seeking the Republican nomination for the House seat. He will be profiled in a future story.