There are a total of five people running for Alaska's U.S. Senate seat, currently held by incumbent Dan Sullivan. The Independent candidate that has been endorsed by the Alaska Democratic Party, Dr. Al Gross, says that he entered the race because he is concerned about the divisive nature of President Trump’s leadership, and wants to help change health care in the United States.
“We have the most expensive health care system in the entire country and the entire world,” said Gross. "It’s holding back the economic development in our state because the individuals and small businesses that are buying health insurance through the private system are just getting crushed, and I am a firm believer that individuals and small businesses should have the option to be able to buy Medicare at cost without an intermediary by the health insurance company. And that will drive prices down and encourage economic development in the state.”
During Coffee@KYUK on June 5, Gross talked about a wide range of issues, including his bipartisan roots in former governor Jay Hammond’s administration when his father, a Democrat, served as attorney general for the Republican governor. Gross said that his non-partisan status would help him reach across the aisle to come up with solutions, adding that if elected, he would caucus with the Democrats.
“Because I’m a doctor, and I am very motivated to take a leadership position to help fix our healthcare system in our country. And the Republicans have completely blown any opportunity to have forward progress in that direction, but that doesn’t mean I won’t speak with the other side. When I get to Washington D.C., the first thing I am going to do is reach across the aisle and establish relationships and build trust.”
Gross also wants to help focus more efforts on climate change. Acknowledging that Alaska is an oil state, he said that we will have to learn to adjust as the global marketplace for oil shrinks.
“I believe we need to continue to produce oil, but that doesn’t mean we need to be consuming it. I believe the worldwide demand for oil is going to gradually diminish, and I’m a big supporter of renewable energy. Whenever and wherever we can develop renewable energy in Alaska, we should.”
The issue of eligibility for federal pandemic relief funds has reignited an old dispute over whether Alaska Native tribes or corporations should get federal money. Gross leaves no doubt about his position here.
“I would push hard for getting the money to the tribes,” he said. “That’s how I would approach this. I think the tribes need to take the lead on securing their funding. Certainly, the corporations are for profit and sometimes profits don’t always get to the people. But if the funding gets to the tribes, they will.”
Gross is running for the Alaska U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan. He made his comments on Coffee@KYUK; the full discussion can be heard on KYUK’s web site. KYUK has invited the other four candidates in the race to also join us for coffee and conversation.