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As Election Day nears, Debra Call campaigns in Dillingham

Debra Call campaign

Debra Call is running for lieutenant governor alongside democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich. On Monday, Call discussed their approach to the state's crime rate and Begich's proposed formula to determine Permanent Fund Dividends.


Debra Call is running alongside gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich. In the weeks leading up to the midterms, their campaign has focused on the state's crime rates. Call said that as lieutenant governor, she would tackle crime by addressing substance abuse.

“What I see my role would be, would be to help leverage opportunities, work out partnerships, in the goal of providing options for individuals that have substance abuse issues and are ready to make a change," Call said. "If we can get a handle on that, rather than ignoring it, I think we’re on the way to making things better in Alaska in terms of ensuring our communities are safe."

To that end, Call said that their administration would also promote tribal sovereignty. According to her, doing so would allow tribes to apply local knowledge to law enforcement and criminal justice.


“The tribal courts understand the community and the tribes provide another level of support to law enforcement as well as in the court system," Call said. "There’s certain codes that you go by as a tribe, and that just adds to the level of responsibility a community has to its community members. It provides the structure as well as the enforcement that’s needed in communities. Because I don’t think that the state government can do it all, but you know, leveraging funding and leveraging resources -- the state really does need to look at that in light of our current budget situation.”

This campaign season, debates about that budget situation has invariably been tied to the Permanent Fund Dividend. Begich is proposing a new formula to determine PFDs. The draw would be based on a percent of the fund’s market value and would be divided between dividends and education. Such a formula would have increased individual PFDs by about $300 this year. According to Call, the formula would allow that money to be put towards other programs without cutting education funds.


“If you take half of the permanent fund and invest in education, you’re taking $1.6 billion out of the general budget," Call said. "So you’ve got a budget that has a little bit more money than what it had before, and you’re funding education solidly going into the future. So looking at the budget you have an opportunity to shift some things around, re-prioritize, and I think that’s really what Alaskans want to see – that we’re thinking through this and coming up with creative options on this. Because nobody wants a simple formula that eventually – the Permanent Fund is gone.”

Call was referring to Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunleavy’s proposal for the Permanent Fund. Dunleavy has said that he would return to the formula used before 2016 to determine the PFDs. That would have bumped individual dividends this year up to nearly $3,000.


KDLG reached out to the Dunleavy campaign, but Dunleavy has not scheduled a visit to Dillingham before Election Day on November 6.


Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.