Sen. French and Vazquez Set Their Sights on West Anchorage

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by Russ Slaten

(ANCHORAGE, AK) - The Alaska Primary Election is only a week away and the political races are heating up. Looking to West Anchorage, we talked to the both sides vying for the seat, currently held by incumbent Democratic Sen. Hollis French. Due to the redistricting process, District J has been redrawn to incorporate areas currently represented by Sen. Lesil McGuire.

The fight for State Senate District J is between incumbent Sen. Hollis French and Republican Candidate Liz Vazquez.

The district still includes areas west of Minnesota Drive like Turnagain and Lake Hood, but gains the International Airport, and the Sand Lake and Jewel Lake areas.

Republican Challenger Liz Vazquez says her priorities include modifying the 'ACES' oil production tax and encouraging statewide resource development, while controlling and prioritizing state spending.

The 30-year Anchorage resident has worked as an administrative law judge and was chair of the Chugach Electric Association.

Vazquez says the economy is most important, but hopes to expand educational programs that have growing waiting lists.

"There's lots to be done, but for me the economy is front and center. That's good, everything else follows. And you know, if you don't deal with the economy it's like arguing about the chairs or the music on the sinking Titanic," said Vazquez.

Sen. French, an Alaska resident for over 30 years, is a lawyer and small business owner. French says he also aims to adjust oil taxes to increase investment and jobs. He says a top priority is to ensure Cook Inlet gas will continue to sustain Southcentral Alaska. As the chair of the Legislative Judiciary Committee, French says he will continue to fight Alaska's ever-damaging problem of sexual assault.

"Whether it's speed bumps, or local crime problems, or the schools, it's a two-way street. I tell them what I'm campaigning on and they tell me what's most important to them. It's been a great learning process for me to get introduced to the Sand Lake, Jewel Lake area," said Sen. French.

Primaries are next Tuesday, August 28th, and the general election will be November 6th.

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