Anchorage Daily News: OPINION: Empowering Alaska’s communities through effective leadership

As an Anchorage-based businesswoman who is deeply invested in the success of our state, I feel compelled to shine a light on the leadership of our two U.S. senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. In an era where collaboration and bipartisanship are often overshadowed by political grandstanding, their work continues to shine brightly. Much like the late Sen. Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young, they demonstrate a loyal commitment to Alaskans through initiatives and investments that prioritize our unique needs and the challenges of our blossoming young state.

While recent headlines boast about the Biden administration’s rollout of new federal infrastructure investments to Alaska, it is the demonstrated actions of both Murkowski and Sullivan, as well as Young, that have been the catalyst for many of these tangible investments coming to Alaska. Often overlooked is the key role our delegation played in securing these funding sources through their engagement, development and passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Now, 21 months after its passage, that legislation is paving the way for much-needed funding that is already delivering on the promise to reshape our state’s infrastructure and economy.

Another testament to their leadership and ability to foster partnerships was their recent engagement with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. By inviting and hosting Buttigieg in Alaska, Murkowski and Sullivan showcased their commitment to hands-on, comprehensive governance. Like they’ve always done, regardless of which political party holds the White House, they provided Secretary Buttigieg a firsthand look at the complex challenges our state faces in terms of our degrading and in many cases non-existent transportation systems and infrastructure. Priorities such as the lack of clean water and sewer programs for our rural communities, the need for more reliable and low-cost energy deployment, and the many challenges our nearly 80% of communities off the road system face each and every day. These visits are not just a photo op; they demonstrate a dedication — beyond party politics — to finding practical solutions that address our specific needs.

Alaska’s potential for progress and prosperity has often been met with the challenges posed by our diverse and rugged geographical landscape. However, thanks in large part to Alaska’s two senior Republican leaders, we are witnessing a new era of transformation in key areas such as historic broadband deployment, new port infrastructure and bridge investments, tribal transportation improvements, efforts to make our communities more resilient in the face of thinning sea ice and thawing permafrost, and so much more. Their commitment to infrastructure development is not just about building roads and bridges; it’s about connectivity, accessibility and ensuring our communities are not isolated from each other or the resources they need.

The funding secured through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, coupled with their earnest efforts to host various senior-level federal officials in Alaska this August reflect their vision for a better, more resilient Alaska — one where infrastructure is not a limitation, but a spark for growth.

Carol Ashlock is a longtime Alaska businesswoman.

By:  Carol Ashlock
Source: Anchorage Daily News