The soil doctor from East Anchorage is evidently ticked off that she’s known as the “Dirt Doctor” when she reaches out to prospective voters. Liz Snyder, running for House District 27 as a Democrat, enlisted the help of some of her fellow PhD’s at the University of Alaska, to write a letter declaring that she is, in fact, a real doctor.
Snyder does have her PhD in soil science from the University of Florida and has written extensively on community gardens. As well, she has studied in Venezuela, a failed socialist nation, where she researched her master’s thesis. She promotes community gardening as a path toward food security and she and her family have an extensive and productive home garden in East Anchorage. Not bad, for a gal from Florida who came to Alaska on a whim a decade ago.
Snyder told the University of Florida blog that she came to Alaska to apply for a job with UAA that she never thought she would get. “I hadn’t even defended my dissertation yet. I just figured it was a good trip to Alaska and great practice.” She did get it, and the rest is history.
Now, four other scientists — one who is a medical doctor — say that she is entitled to call herself a doctor on the campaign trail, something she only started doing in July, when being an expert in coronavirus became all the academic rage.
During her 2018 run for office, she did not refer to herself as a doctor. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she changed her title.
Snyder was quoted in an Anchorage publication owned by the political strategy firm Lottsfeldt Strategies, saying she is tired of her credentials as a health doctor being questioned. She says it’s sexist.
“It’s tiresome,” Snyder told TMS. “It’s one instance in a long line of women’s qualifications being questioned. It’s just frustrating when you dedicate your whole life to a field and you’re qualified—I’m a public health professor and have been for more than 10 years—and he doesn’t want to show up and would rather spread lies than talk about the issues facing Alaskans. It’s ridiculous and disrespectful to voters.”
Critics say that scientists who use the title “Doctor” in political campaigns are doing so to fool voters — especially now, in the middle of a pandemic. But some PhDs do refer to themselves that way on the campaign trail — Dr. Jill Biden has her doctorate in education and refers to herself as “Dr.” The media also gives her that courtesy title.
But Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak, who has his PhD in education, doesn’t play up the doctor title. Dr. Donny Olson is a medical doctor who serves in the Senate and he doesn’t play up his medical credentials while running for office.
Dr. Al Gross, running for U.S. Senate, has tagged himself the “Bear Doctor” referring to the bear that he claims to have killed, but he is actually a medical doctor.
In an online town hall meeting, Liz Snyder uses her health doctor authority as she describes her prescription for defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Snyder says that in order to crush the coronavirus, the state needs to implement a rolling series of economic shutdowns. When the number of cases go up, the government needs to reimplement closures on businesses until the numbers come back down, she said. Watch here:
She has the support of several academic colleagues from UAA who want her to be called Dr. Snyder for campaign purposes: Dr. Tom Hennessy, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the University of Alaska Anchorage; Dr. Jennifer Meyer, an assistant professor of allied health; medical Dr. Jose Luna and Trina Stauff de Luna, a registered nurse. The four signed a letter saying anything less than the”Dr.” label were abhorrent and blatant lies.
But a review of disclosure forms at the Alaska Public Offices Commission shows all of them have been contributors to Snyder’s campaign.
Jose Luna and Trina de Luna contributed $500 each in 2018 to the Snyder campaign, the maximum allowed by law, and contributed the maximum again in 2020. Hennessy donated $500 to the Snyder campaign in 2020. Meyer gave a negligible amount in this cycle.
Snyder, in her second run against incumbent Rep. Lance Pruitt, who has a bachelor’s and master’s degree, has raised more money than Pruitt and has been running hard for the District 27 seat since 2017. She has the endorsement of former Gov. Bill Walker, another highly regarded politician who has a Doctor of Jurisprudence.