“I’m a humanitarian. I love people. I love humanity,” Sharon Jackson, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said Wednesday in a talk at the Chamber of Commerce weekly meeting.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Jackson came to Alaska in 1983 as part of her service in the U.S. Army, and now makes her home in Anchorage. She has worked for the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Write Your Congressman organization.
Jackson said her vision for Alaska centers on a revitalized spirit in the state, drawing on the past to inform the state’s future.
“We need to reinstate, reinvigorate the Alaska pride, where people can be happy, be free, right?” she said. “Alaska was one place you can go, you can work, raise your family, and enjoy life. We need to get back to that.”
In describing her values, Jackson also emphasized her appreciation for small businesses.
“My heart is small business because small business is the backbone of this country, of this state, and of this community, and the day we forget that will be a very sad day,” she said.
Jackson is one of six Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, and one of seven total. In Alaska, party candidates for lieutenant governor run separately from the candidates for governor in the primary election. The primary election winners are then joined on the ticket in the general election.
Early in her presentation, Jackson ran through her political priorities.
Her platform has three main parts: running fair elections, guarding the state seal from misuse, and ensuring Alaskans receive their due through the Permanent Fund Dividends. She said in recent years Alaskans have been shortchanged on the PFD, and “every dime taken” should be returned retroactively.
Later, in response to a question from audience member Pat Alexander, Jackson detailed what she believes to be her proven political successes.
She pointed to her work as assistant secretary to the Alaska Republican Party, vice president of the Midnight Sun Republican Women Club, bonus vote in District 13, and delegate to the Republican National Convention (RNC) as examples of her achievements.
“And, yes, I wanted Donald Trump because, personal opinion, I thought we were falling off a cliff as a nation, and we needed someone that can take that fall, take that hit, so the people can rise back up,” she said of her delegation to the RNC.
Jackson also highlighted her founding of the Republican Women of Anchorage, and her work to empower small business owners in the state.
She also shared stories from her personal history, expressing pride at having raised her son as a single parent and overcoming medical adversity of her own, a stroke in 2015 that left her unable to speak and partially paralyzed.
At the hospital, Jackson said, she successfully worked toward recovery.
“My room was full of prayers, I mean, prayers from across the world, and I felt like I was under a waterfall, and just could feel these prayers,” she said. “In my mind, there was no way I was going to surrender to that condition... I walked out of that hospital.”
One caregiver at the hospital told her she would be completely “normal” again, but emphasized the added perspective the experience would give her -- added perspective that Jackson thinks would serve Alaska well.
“‘You will have insights that you’ve never had before. You will do things differently,’” Jackson remembered being told. “I say Alaska needs a different, a new perspective. It’s like we’ve been in this box and do things the same way, with the same people, expecting different results.”
Jackson said her slogan, “Alaska’s Bridge to a Brighter Future,” represents an all-encompassing vision for Alaska, and reflects her commitment to creating infrastructure, both literal and abstract.
“That bridge is many meanings deep, starting from the infrastructure of the roads, infrastructure of the intelligence, of building our businesses, of communication,” she said. “That bridge is very important.”
Sharon Jackson at the Sitka Chamber of Commerce on July 18, 2018. A Republican through and through, she believes in bipartisanship, and in not passing judgment. A single mom, she’s raised a son who’s been in business 15 years. “Statistically, he had no chance,” she says. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)
Sharon Jackson is a newcomer seeking elected office, but she’s not new to politics. Most recently a staff member in Sen. Dan Sullivan’s Anchorage office, she’s been active in the state’s Republican party for years, and even served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, where she — like Alaska’s other 10 delegates — was legally bound to cast her nominating vote for then-candidate Donald Trump.
Jackson got out in front of this issue with the Sitka Chamber. She probably is often asked about her support for Trump.
“I thought we were falling off a cliff as a nation, and we needed someone that can take that fall, take that hit, so the people can rise back up.” she said. “So we needed someone who could absorb it and… Lord knows.”
In reality, it’s probably Jackson herself who’s taken the hit: In 2015 she suffered a stroke following oral surgery, and lost the ability to speak. She has clawed her way back. After four days in intensive care, and a week in the hospital, she asked her speech therapist if she would ever be “normal” again, the therapist said no, but she would do things differently, and she would have new perspectives and insights.
This realization has fueled Jackson’s effort to run for statewide office.
“It’s like we’ve been in this box and do things the same way, with the same people, expecting different results,” she said. “We need a new perspective. We need to get back to the pride: Number one in jobs, number one in education, number one place to live — and you know what? We can do that — that’s Alaska.”
Jackson says she believes in diversifying Alaska’s Republican Party. She first came to Alaska in 1983 as a member of the US Army, from her home state of Pennsylvania. She founded the Republican Women of Anchorage, became the vice-president of the Midnight Sun Republican Women’s Club, and later rose to secretary of the state’s Republican Party.
That’s a lot of Republican credentials in a red state, but she’s not anti-Democrat. She believes in the system, and wants it to work better.
“I respect our dual partyship. Because the difference is the power of this country. However, we need to bring back the civility,” she said. “If we can’t communicate, we can’t do anything. There’s no judgments. If I just hung around with people that think as I do, I lose the opportunity to grow. To learn about other people.”
One of Jackson’s primary duties as Lt. Governor, if elected, would be to certify citizen initiatives. Like her faith in small business and in her religious beliefs , allowing citizens a greater voice in government is one of her bedrock principles.
“When people get together and do propositions, that’s something that they’re feeling very strong about,” Jackson said. “I just believe we need to have a vote on everything. From your permanent fund dividend to … how about this fishing situation, right? Everyone should have a say on what’s happening.”
The “fishing situation” is a reference to the widely-publicized protests in Sitka over the renegotiation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty with Canada — a situation that falls squarely within the purview of the governor’s administration. But Jackson is also pro-vote on constitutional matters: Asked by a chamber member whether she would support prayer in schools, she replied that “It’s not the job of the Lt. Governor,” however she wouldn’t oppose a ballot initiative on the school prayer. “Whatever the decision of the popular vote, I will support that.”
Republican Sharon Jackson, who was on the staff of Sen. Dan Sullivan until earlier this month, has filed for the office of lieutenant governor.
Jackson has been involved with political organizing for years, and is the president of a Republican women’s club in Anchorage, the Republican Women of Anchorage, (although she will likely have to resign that post, as club rules often don’t permit officers to be active candidates.) Her club’s goal is to “diversify and grow our party and most of all give our Independents and Undeclared a reason to return.” Diversifying the Republican Party has been a long-held goal of Jackson.
Jackson was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention from Alaska, one of 11 delegates from the state who were bound by party rules to support Donald Trump.
She worked for National Write Your Congressman and the National Federation of Independent Businesses in the past, and is a military veteran of the U.S. Army.
For Sullivan, she served constituents from the Anchorage office of the senator, and worked extensively on behalf of veterans services. This is her first run for public office.
Our Candidate Lt.Governor Sharon Jackson along with others raised money for Elgin Jones to keep prevent Kid's Kitchen from closing. For more info on this story press the link.