CORRECTIONS OFFICERS’ UNION IS GETTING BACK AT GOVERNOR?
A recent statewide survey commissioned by the Alaska Correctional Officers Association shows Gov. Bill Walker in third place in a hypothetical three-way matchup with candidates Mike Dunleavy and Mark Begich.
Alaska Survey Research, also known as Ivan Moore, sent ACOA the answers to the two questions the group commissioned on the June 15-21 “kitchen sink” poll that also had questions on disparate matters for several clients, including the ACLU and some nonprofit organizations. The questions for the correctional officers union were:
Q: I’m now going to read you the names of some public figures. Please tell me whether your feelings towards them are very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or very negative, or if you have never heard of them?
Walker Begich Dunleavy
Negative 39% 35% 22%
Neutral 14% 11% 20%
Who? 5% 4% 23%
Q: If the 2018 General Election for Governor of Alaska was held today and the candidates were (READ RANDOMIZED LIST), for whom would you vote for Governor?
Mike Dunleavy, Republican 38%
Mark Begich, Democrat 33%
Bill Walker, Independent 23%
Interviews were conducted with 654 registered Alaska voters across the state. Alaska Survey Research says the margin of error is 3.8 percent.
The corrections officers’ press release provided these comments:
- As an incumbent, Governor Walker should have been the strongest candidate, yet these results show him to be the weakest of the three, currently 10 percent and 15 percent behind his opponents, and with little chance of winning.
- Walker’s tenure as Governor has resulted in the highest negative rating of the three candidates.
- Despite only announcing his candidacy two weeks ago, Mark Begich already has the highest positive rating of the three candidates and is within 5 percent of Mike Dunleavy.
These may be conclusions intended to dissuade Gov. Walker. In fact, many incumbents are not the “strongest candidates,” because they have political baggage, and while they don’t always poll well, they may still be electable.
The use of the phrase “little chance of winning,” indicates that the correctional officers union is already at least in the “anybody but Walker” camp. The vitriol toward Gov. Walker by the union goes back to 2016, when the union expressed disapproval after Gov. Bill Walker appointed Dean Williams as commissioner of Corrections.
Williams had been named commissioner following his critical review and report of the department to Gov. Walker, whom he had served as a special assistant. Many corrections officers saw the scathing report as self-serving for Williams, who stood to gain with the prestigious appointment.
The officers expressed their displeasure in a news release that January, stating, “Everyone was hurt by his [Dean Williams’] depiction of Officers in the press, but having your face all over the news and accused of being responsible for a death, all while conducting your duties as trained and per policy, is horrific. Then to have the Governor name the same person [Williams] responsible for releasing the video with false statements as the new Commissioner, is downright scary.
“We cannot have a Commissioner discipline COs for doing their jobs, who thinks pepper spray is cruel, and every time an inmate dies thinks it is somehow a CO’s fault. No one, absolutely no one from the State or DOC, stood up publically for Correctional Officers, no one said, they did what they were supposed to do. We had to act and defend the Officers, not that it will reverse what has already been done, but we had to try to prevent more videos being released with more false statements.”
“You should know that we tried to work this out with Dean Williams (more than once) as well as the Governor personally. We beseeched Dean Williams to stop releasing videos with a false narrative, and give us time to show him where he was wrong. We were not only ignored, but they then released the Kobuk video, again with an extremely false narrative, and someone altered the video by removing the audio. Of course removing the audio from the video allowed them to portray Kobuk as a victim whereas the audio of him screaming that he was going to kill Officers and that he wanted to splatter their brains all over the wall, did not fit in Dean Williams’ false narrative of ‘bad Officers.'”
“Bottom line, Dean Williams wrote a false report, he left out vital information and someone altered evidence. If a Correctional Officer had done any of these things, they would have been fired,” the union stated in January of 2016.