Alaska’s Stand for Salmon Ballot Measure Fails

With 88 percent of ballots counted in Alaska’s general election, a ballot initiative that aimed to better protect fish habitat in Alaska was headed toward defeat. The vote in this divisive campaign, with millions of dollars spent in television, newspaper and sign board advertising, was 141,918 opposed and 80,861 favoring the Stand for Salmon initiative.

“Our diverse, statewide coalition was a major factor in the outcome of this campaign,” said Kasti Capozzi, campaign manager for Stand for Alaska. Capozzi said the coalition included Alaska businesses, Alaska Native corporations, labor unions, trade groups and thousands of Alaskans.

According to Stand for Alaska, the vote “sends a clear message that Alaskans are not in favor of outside interests’ attempts to regulate our land and resources.” The biggest contributors to defeat the ballot measure were oil and gas and mining companies, many of whose headquarters are in the Lower 48 states and Canada.

Backers of the ballot initiative said that while they didn’t garner enough votes to win that they were cheered by Alaskans across political and geographic boundaries who united in support of stronger salmon habitat protections through the ballot initiative.

“We are in the midst of a new era where Alaskans are ready to see stronger salmon protections and more responsible development in our state,” said Gayla Hoseth, an initiative sponsor.

“Through our conversations throughout this campaign, it’s been clear to us that all Alaskans are connected to salmon and want to do more to protect the last wild salmon runs in the country,” said Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, a ballot initiative sponsor and director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal fish commission.