Al Gross, Non-partisan, running in the Democratic Primary
Biographical Information: Born and raised in Alaska; father Avrum Gross was Attorney General under Governor Hammond; Al is an orthopedic surgeon; his wife Monica is a pediatrician; Al has commercial fished; panned for gold; founded the Juneau Bone and Joint Center, served as President of the Bartlett Regional Hospital medical staff.
Responses to Voter’s Guide Questions:
1.The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution was passed by Congress in 1972 with an arbitrary deadline for ratification that other amendments have not had to meet. The ERA Amendment has finally been ratified by the required number of states and now Congress must vote to remove the deadline added to the 1972 Congressional approval. S. J. Res 6 will do that to allow the ERA to become part of the Constitution. Please discuss whether or not you support this bill and explain why.
I would support this for two reasons: first, I agree that the deadline is unprecedented and arbitrary, and second, and I can’t believe this has to be said in the 21st century, but women deserve to have equal rights codified into our constitution. This is an inalienable right that must be recognized.
2. Many citizens see the country as very divided along partisan lines. In contrast, bipartisan effort in the creation of strong public policy is essential in our democracy. Please explain the opportunities you see for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on the very serious issues facing our country.
I grew up seeing firsthand what bipartisanship looked like and what it could get done. My dad was a liberal Democrat, and was appointed Attorney General by a Republican governor. Listening to them discuss their vision for Alaska was a formative experience for me. I think relationships are the foundation of bipartisan cooperation, and as an independent who will be caucusing with the Democrats, coming from a conservative leaning state with a senior Senator who is a moderate Republican, I will be well-positioned to help find opportunities to advance bipartisan solutions.
3. The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA S.561) is a bill that supports the right of every eligible citizen to have access to the voting process. Since 2013 when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) removed the pre-clearance process of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in Shelby vs Holder, the incidents of voter suppression have increased. The VRAA would modernize the pre-clearance process. Please discuss whether or not you support this bill and explain why.
Without free and fair elections, we do not have a Democracy. Core to that is removing all barriers and obstacles to casting a legal ballot. I would absolutely support the VRAA.
4. Many citizens are concerned about the growing role of money in U. S. elections. In addition, transparency in the identification of donors has been lacking. What policies would you support to reduce the role of money in American elections and provide better transparency about donors?
I am proud to have committed not to accept corporate PAC money, as well as earning the endorsement of End Citizens United. We need comprehensive campaign finance reform, in particular donor disclosure requirements for the many “dark money” outfits that allow millions of dollars to be funneled anonymously into our election system. I also strongly support a constitutional amendment overruling the Citizens United case and restoring Congress to its proper role overseeing how money is spent in elections.
5. The SCOTUS recently ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy protecting residents brought here as children may remain in place for now. What, if any, steps would you take to reform current immigration policies?
We need to begin by immediately passing legislation that provides relief for all DACA recipients. Many of these people have no connection to their countries of origin and are American in all ways but their paperwork. At the same time, we need to streamline our immigration system to make it less burdensome to come here legally, reform the system to ensure that we’re attracting the kind of workers our economy needs, and find a path to legal status for the millions of undocumented people who are currently living in the shadows.