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Whale Watching and LeConte Glacier Tours based out of Petersburg Alaska

U.S. Senator stops for meet and greet


Jess Field / Petersburg Pilot

Sally and Al Dwyer talk with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski before she spoke Tuesday night at the Sons of Norway Hall. Murkowski, who is seeking re-election, stopped in Petersburg on a meet and greet.

Around 35 locals turned out to hear U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski speak Tuesday night at the Sons of Norway Hall. The meet and greet hosted at the local landmark lasted two hours, and gave the Senator, who is seeking re-election, the opportunity to field questions.

Glo Wollen introduced Murkowski and took a moment to thank her for the years spent fighting with the Board of Engineers to set aside funding for less populated places, like Alaska, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. The money will help a select few projects.

"She fought long and hard, and a lot of us were back there behind her, supporting this program called Section 107, of which, they set aside between $20 and $30 million for international dredge projects in these small places," Wollen said. "North Harbor qualified for the second dredge project in the entire country."

Multiple residents thanked Murkowski for her service, but the introduction received the loudest ovation of the night. Murkowski said moments like that don't get a lot of media attention, but they are what makes her job so fabulous.

"At the end of the day so much of what I do to represent you in Washington is the things that don't make national news," she said. "In fact, they might not make the Alaska Dispatch."

Murkowski spent the majority of the event speaking about issues facing Southeast Alaska, and the difficulty of advocating for issues specific to the region like marine transportation funding.

"Far too many Alaskans, of the 720,000 Alaskans, that call this place home now, have ever been to Southeast," Murkowski said. "Have no idea what the Alaska Marine Highway system is. They don't, when they talk about ferries they think it's pixie dust. They don't know."

She also answered a question about "Frankenfish," that's the term Murkowski used to set up her reply on a question about genetically engineered salmon. Proponents say genetically engineered fish could result in U.S. jobs added, but Murkowski quickly pointed out the eggs come out of Nova Scotia and they are raised in Panama. Murkowski also mentioned people saying there's no need to be worried about fish escaping or any negative impacts to breeding because they are sterile.

"It makes it sound acceptable because, you know, we are in such a high tech world," she said.

Murkowski brought up the topic of drugs in Petersburg, and mentioned the House recently passing a bill to fight opioid addiction. Later in the event, Murkowski took the opportunity for local Police Chief Kelly Swihart to speak to the crowd. Murkowski looked a little stunned by the figures Swihart used and wanted to schedule a sit-down to discuss the situation.

Other issues discussed during the night were resource development and regulation, fire borrowing, hydro power, health care and the NOAA observer program. Murkowski was scheduled to speak in Wrangell on Wednesday.


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