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Parnell Shares Visitionof Future With Youth

Candidates face off at Youth Vote 2010 event in Anchorage

Fairbanks, AK – Today’s gubernatorial debate, hosted by the Youth Vote 2010 program, was held at Anchorage’s West High School and attended by high school seniors from other Anchorage-area schools. The gubernatorial candidates faced queries chosen by students on a variety of prominent issues, including education, domestic violence, Alaska’s economy, alternative energy, natural gas pipeline construction, and Alaska’s relationship with the federal government.

“You have the opportunity to be the last generation of victims,” Parnell said of the audience in explaining his effort to end Alaska’s epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in the next 10 years. Parnell highlighted the efforts of his signature Choose Respect initiative, which includes tougher penalties for crimes, more enforcement, and more resources for victims. He condemned recent criticism of his work on domestic violence, which Berkowitz intoned as essentially doing nothing. Parnell called that “just false.” Parnell also highlighted funding for suicide prevention and his work on participation with rural efforts to address the tragic level of those deaths in Alaska.

Education was a significant focus in today’s debate, with Parnell inveighing his opponent’s dedication to more government-funded solutions. Parnell says those would not work to transform the Alaska education system the way the Alaska Performance Scholarship will in the coming years. In response to a question on the drop out rate, Parnell noted that he is the candidate who is, “doing something, not talking about it.”

The Alaska Performance Scholarship provides scholarships based on a student’s choice to take a rigorous math and science curriculum and their overall academic performance, based on GPA, test scores, and enrollment in the enhanced curriculum. Additionally, students may use their scholarships for vocational training outside of the University of Alaska system. Home and alternative school students also qualify.

In his closing remarks, Governor Parnell challenged students to take part in developing Alaska’s future instead of relying on the government to do it for them. “It’s about creating a future where you want to be. A future where there are jobs, meaningful work, but also where we have families with safety, families with opportunity. How do we get there? There’s a clear contrast here. You can vote for a candidate that wants a government provided pre-school, a government provided gasline, government providing everything, or you can vote for someone who believes in you. You can vote for someone who is willing to take a chance on you. You can vote for someone who is working to clear a path of opportunity for you. It really is about what you can do for Alaska.”

Today’s debate comes less than a week after Sean Parnell last faced challenger Ethan Berkowitz, who trails by 13 points in the latest poll, 52% to 39%. The candidates will debate three times before this week is through, and will have met 11 times before the November 2 general election.

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