As lieutenant governor candidate Bob Williams campaigns around Alaska this summer, he stopped in Dillingham Tuesday. A huge focus during this campaign for Williams is education but he’s also concerned about letting Alaskans being heard.
Williams is a teacher and says a huge focus, if he wins, will be education reform. He says when he was a state wide mentor in the villages of Savoonga and Gamble he worked on teacher retention. The University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research reports between the years 2007 and 2012, 12% of teachers switched schools. ISER also says teachers who studied in Alaska had a lower turnover rate than those who studied elsewhere.
Williams says this lack of retention among Alaskan teachers poses a problem; when a new teacher only stays for a year or two, the replacement teacher, who is probably also new, will make the same mistakes as the previous teacher-- causing a loss of institutional knowledge. He says he wants to encourage teachers to stay in the state, especially those who are educated in Alaska.
“We have to do as much as we can to grow our own. You look at where we’re at and you look at what our strengths are and you try to reinforce them and you look at our weaknesses and try to make them stronger. We want to make sure that we have high quality, effective teachers and we want to have incentives for that. Because if you’re from a community its home and you want to try to encourage that as much as you can.”
Although he did not always have political aspirations, Williams has always been interested in serving his community.
“It’s the great public education that allowed me to be who I am today. And so I looked at all that professional development I received and that idea of giving back to your state. I’m also working on a PhD on public policy I’m like ‘how do I put all those together?’ And I look at the offices of lt. governor and I’m actually very interested in that position specifically. You partner and collaborate with the governor to really increase the effectiveness of the executive branch and you can really make a difference.”
Williams says his trip to Dillingham was enlightening and he was glad to meet possible supporters. He says, although education is important to him, if he’s elected, he will listen to the people of Alaska on all their concerns.
“I have to say I absolutely been delighted by how welcomed I’ve been in Dillingham but I think if I was supportive of Pebble, I wouldn’t have had a place to sleep last night. To me that’s just very clear that the answer is no and our state should have taken a much more forceful look at saying it’s the wrong mine and we don’t risk the world’s best fishery for red salmon for the sake of a short term gain.”
The most important thing, Williams says, is that he listen to everything voters are concerned about. He says it’s really all about Alaskans.
“As policy makers we need to make sure that we are listening to all Alaskans, that we are working to represent all Alaskans, and we’re trying to do what’s best for all Alaskans. And I’ve just seen decision after decision that seems to favor special interest instead of all Alaskan’s.”
Williams says during his three day visit to Dillingham he talked to the residents to learn what issues concern them and what he could do to help, if elected.