Margaret Stock says if she is elected to office, she’ll be ‘all work and no party.’ No party as in no political affiliation and the distractions, she says, that come with it. Stock is an independent candidate for the US Senate seat currently occupied by Lisa Murkowski. She made a campaign stop in Haines in early October.
Stock thinks her status as an independent will be one of her strongest assets if elected senator.
“What’s happened in Washington D.C. is that senators who are members of national parties now spend the majority of their time raising money rather than doing their jobs,” Stock said. “And they raise money primarily from corporations and powerful special interests. And because they’re spending all their time asking outside groups for money, they’re not doing things their supposed to do as legislators.”
Stock thinks incumbent Murkowski is guilty of shirking some of her duties as a legislator. She points to Murkowski, like many other GOP senators, refusing to hold a hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
“The Senate is supposed to hold hearings and give the nominee an up or down vote. They don’t have the option of just not doing their job and not holding a hearing. But that’s what’s happened in the polarized political climate in Washington.”
Stock has not served in elected office before. But she touts the varied experience she does have on her resume. After a challenging childhood that included a period of homelessness, Stock went to college and joined ROTC. She was later commissioned as an Army Reserve officer. That’s what brought her to the 49th state – Stock was stationed at Fort Richardson.
“By the end of it two things had happened, I fell in love with Alaska and I had fallen in love with an Alaskan. So I got off active duty. I ended up going to law school.”
In 2013, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius grant’ for her work as an immigration attorney.
The MacArthur Foundation chose Stock partly because of her work on the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program. The recruiting program enables immigrants with in-demand skills to gain U.S. citizenship through military service.
Immigration has become a hot topic during this year’s presidential election. Stock says the U.S. should have a ‘robust system’ for screening immigrants.
“But at the same time we don’t want to be afraid of foreigners because our nation is a nation of immigrants. And we’re strongest when we welcome the best and the brightest from all over the world.”
Another aspect of Stock’s experience could play into her decisions as a senator: her military career. She says she is familiar with the VA healthcare issues Alaskans experience.
“I do hear from a lot of veterans in Alaska because they’re my friends and colleagues, and I’m a veteran myself, and people are generally pleased with the level of care they get at the VA facility once they get into it. But there are significant transportation problems and there have been problem with bureaucrats in the Lower 48 devising solutions that don’t work for Alaska.”
Alaska’s two current senators, Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, have introduced legislation to give land to Alaska Natives in communities that were left out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The Chilkoot Indian Association in Haines is one of the so-called ‘landless’ tribes.
Stock says she supports the concept of giving lands to Natives who were left out of ANCSA, especially Vietnam vets. But Stock says she would need more information before supporting a land transfer.
“We’re going to have to be creative in trying to figure out what land people are gonna end up getting. And the calculation might involve consideration of what uses they’re going to put the land to, what are they going to be doing with the land? Some people say they want a short-term cash payment. Others say ‘wait a minute, I’m very connected to the land, I want to be on the land that my ancestors inhabited.’ So we’re going to have to take all that into account. It’s going to take a lot of creativity.”
Stock says her biggest challenge, if elected, will be hearing the voices of all Alaskans. She says balancing time between Washington and her vast home state might be difficult, but she’s up to it.
Stock will be on the ballot with Republican Murkowski, Libertarian Joe Miller, Democrat Ray Metcalfe, and other independents Breck Craig and Ted Gianoutsos.