• Stepson of Alaska’s Constitutional Convention delegate grew up around historical political figures
By Naomi Klouda
Lifelong Alaskan and hotel owner Jon Faulkner declared his candidacy for Alaska House District 30, a seat currently held by Rep. Paul Seaton.
Faulkner, owner of Land’s End Resort and two other hotels on the Kenai Peninsula, is making is first bid for public office. Now is the right time to make a foray into active politics, he said.
“My kids are grown, business is stable and the economy needs a renewed focus on small business and the creation of jobs,” Faulkner said Thursday. Redistricting also presents opportunities for a new start. “The last time Paul (Seaton) ran, he ran unopposed, which isn’t good for democracy. People need choices.”
Faulkner classifies himself as a conservative Republican, an independent thinker and an inherent of an Alaska-born philosophy on citizen politics. When he was five years old, his mother married Barrie M. White Jr., a delegate to Alaska’s Constitutional Convention and signer of Alaska’s Constitution. The family home in Anchorage was active with visitors such as Delegate Vic Fischer and Katie Hurley, Alaska’s first woman candidate for governor who had served as White’s secretary at the convention.
“No one in my family ran for office. There was an emphasis on entrepreneurship and creating jobs and opportunities,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner was born in Anchorage in 1960 and has lived in Homer 25 years. With his wife Sara, he has five children age 14 to 24. He attended school in Anchorage through the 9th grade, then St. Paul’s school in Concord, NH and Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in American History and literature. His father, Sewell Faulkner, paid for his son’s education, and held a deep influence on him as well.
In Homer, Faulkner purchased Land’s End Resort in 1988 and built 21 condos on beachfront next door, with construction beginning in 2000. Today all of the condos are in private ownership by others, with Land’s End acting as an agent for renting out a few of them to vacationers.
One year after undergoing heart surgery and pondering serious thoughts on life contributions, Faulkner had an idea for giving back to the community: he wanted to auction off a final condo and give the proceeds to the town’s nonprofits. Called the “Celebration of Giving,” funds raised were to benefit Homer Council on the Arts, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, Cook Inletkeeper, Pratt Museum, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies and KBBI Public Radio.
But no buyers stepped forward to pay the $718,000 asking price.
“It was the wrong time. That was at the beginning of the big real estate crash nationwide,” he recalled.
The idea demonstrated Faulkner’s brand of free-thinking that characterizes his social and economic ideals.
As for how he would represent the district, Faulkner said he would work first to build strong alliances with fellow Republicans.
“I believe that yes, you do have to reach across the aisle and yes, you have to compromise. But first it’s important to have a clear idea of the goal and what you want before you compromise.”
The new special focus on Cook Inlet oil and gas issues will impact the district’s political policies. Faulkner said he sides with those who stood up to oil companies in the past, like Jay Hammond, Wally Hickel and even Sarah Palin.
“Palin wanted an open-season inviting others to bid on building the gas pipeline – not sole sourcing. She showed back bone and push-back but we didn’t have a chance to see how that would go (prior to her resignation).”
The big oil and gas companies have a lot of staying power that enables them to stave off costly legal permitting challenges, Faulkner said. In Cook Inlet, smaller operators don’t have that kind of clout and might not be able to stand up in the face of long court challenges.
But the benefit is that these producers–Buccaneer, Armstrong and Hilcorp–tend to be more sensitive to the local environment and economy, Faulkner said. “They are more responsive to our local priorities. We need that kind of competition.”
“I believe ACES is working just fine. I would rather put $2 billion into the Permanent Fund Dividend than into the pockets of oil companies,” he said.
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