The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin


Gov. Bill Walker 

Thank you, Alaska

 

December 5, 2018



Just before 8:30 AM on Friday, I stepped into the elevator on the 17th floor of the State office building in Anchorage. It turned out to be a bumpier ride than usual, but we made it down to the first floor, and walked outside to find Anchorage mostly intact. The earthquake ripped open roads, fractured buildings, and knocked out power, but more than that it shook us hard enough to remind us of our strength.

Within minutes, our community mobilized to respond. Before picking up shattered belongings, neighbors checked in with each other, drivers called into radio stations to report damage and spread information, first responders deployed, and state and municipal workers geared up to work late into the night. Alaskans are tough and resilient, but when the ground shakes we remember that together we are even stronger.

I ran for Governor with the belief that our state government should reflect the unity that Alaskans live every day. Today, more than ever, I believe that we do better when we cast aside the little ways we divide ourselves, and work together to put Alaska and Alaskans first. This won’t be the last time that disaster strikes. Sometimes, those disasters will be dramatic: earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, fires. Other times they will be less obvious, though no less devastating: a summer without any salmon in the river, a winter without enough sea ice, or an endless night where a child fears the person who should be caring for her. In all cases, we as a community and a State must be able to help each other get back on our feet. In many ways, that has been the project of the last four years.

We responded to the greatest fiscal crisis in our state’s history, a crisis that threatened our ability to fulfill basic obligations of governing. We restructured State revenues so that we will never have to be in that position again. We are no longer a state that crashes when the price of oil crashes. We are able to present the next administration with a balanced budget that makes smart investments in infrastructure, education, and public safety, and that protects the Permanent Fund dividend for future generations.

We built unprecedented, solutions-oriented relationships with Tribes and Alaska Native organizations. We protected thousands of families from the disaster of untreated illness and injury by expanding Medicaid. And we brought the Alaska LNG project farther than ever before. High paying jobs and cheap energy will usher in a new Renaissance in Alaska’s economy. Taken together, these achievements will help equip the next generation of Alaskans to not only withstand the challenges to come, but to lead independent and prosperous lives.

Four years ago, you entrusted me with the responsibility of governing the greatest state in our union. From the bottom of my heart -- thank you. Serving as your governor has been the highest honor of my life. It has been a privilege to serve alongside a team of Alaska’s best and brightest. But even they would have been little help if I did not have my brilliant wife Donna at my side through it all.

Unity is more than a ticket – it’s a decision we make over and over again to find areas of common ground and move forward together. Though we are divided by icefields, mountain ranges, endless stretches of tundra, and mighty rivers – as Alaskans, we’re all in this together.

I wish Governor-elect Dunleavy and his family the best as they continue the work of recovering, and building a united and prosperous state. I leave him this office, grateful for every day I had in it. And most of all, I leave this office grateful to call this state my home.

Thank you Alaska. God bless you all, and God bless Alaska.

 

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