Gara signals he's out; Rojas has filed for Downtown Anchorage - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, October 30, 2020
HomePoliticsGara signals he’s out; Rojas has filed for Downtown Anchorage

Gara signals he’s out; Rojas has filed for Downtown Anchorage

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One big-city Democrat in the Alaska Legislature may be replaced by another as Rep. Les Gara, who represents the second-most liberal district in the state — District 20 — has signaled he’s done.

Democratic Party operative Elias Rojas has filed for his seat.

According to the Pride Foundation, Rojas is a communications and marketing professional with an extensive background in legislative campaigns, media relations, public relations, communications, marketing, and advertising. He owns Alaska Digital Strategies, an Anchorage-based digital marketing agency, after bouncing around several marketing jobs over the past few years, according to his LinkedIn account.

Rojas grew up in California and lived in New York, where he was a senior field organizer for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He has a B.A. from San Diego State University (go Aztec Warriors!) and earned his MBA from Alaska Pacific University.

He can often be found in a coffee shop, and often at Steam Dot in the Sears Mall, and has served on the Pride Foundation board since 2009. He has worked on many Democratic campaigns since moving to Alaska.

Gara announced his intentions on Facebook on Monday. By next January, he will have served 16 years in the House.

“After many years working as your Legislator, I’d be honored to have a bright, hard working person take the turn to represent our district and state. I’m not necessarily dropping out of the 2018 race, but I’d truly prefer to have a great new candidate, who honestly shares the values of the large majority in our district, represent us. I will keep my name in this race because I do have the energy for another 2 years of this job IF a committed person who will work to win and represent our district’s values doesn’t run.”

That was enough for Rojas. Within 24 hours, he’d filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, possibly seeking to crowd out other potential applicants.

District 20 covers downtown, Government Hill, Mountain View, Fairview and South Addition. During the past two election cycles, Gara has not faced a primary challenge nor a Republican opponent in the General Election.

The district is reliably anti-private sector. In the 2014 primary election, voters in District 20 voted to repeal SB 21, oil tax reform, 2826 to 1897. Only District 33 downtown Juneau voted against oil tax reform at a higher rate, 4,769 to 1,906. The repeal effort was defeated, however.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • That’s the best news I’ve heard in awhile. He obviously knew he was done.

  • As sincere and committed as Representative Gara is he lost far too much credibility in 2017 and 2018 by not speaking up to the poor leadership in the House Majority, especially during the Westlake-Fansler-Parish affairs. Democrats would have Alaska believe they own certain issues, and this Me-too, pink hat deal was supposed to be one of them; at least if you believed them. But the House Majority went far beyond ineptitude this year and entered the grounds of corruption, particularly with the Westlake mess. Gara was tongue-tied and therefore I am happy to see him leave. Gara remained stuck on the oil tax issues of 4 years ago. There is absolutely nothing for Alaska to gain if he remained, and nothing for Gara to gain by hanging in there. Gara would be the right man for the job had Bernie Sanders won the White House and the Alaska general election, but if anything Alaska has moved farther to the conservative side since 2016. Can District 20 come up with no one with a better resume in the real world than this Rojas fellow?

  • we need a republican to win dist. 20.

  • Gara can’t wait for the Walking Papers any to soon!

  • If District 20 is the second most liberal district in the state which district is the most liberal?

  • Thank you for a very informative heads-up. Time for D-20 Repubs to step up! 😀

  • While I cannot bring myself to imagine Walker winning re-election, if something went terribly wrong for Alaska to cause Walker to prevail this November I can easily imagine Gara becoming part of the cabinet. I would expect Walker to signal something like that – lots of somethings like that – if Begich jumped in the race as Walker would be desperate to keep the Far Left on board. I can imagine a former AG who advises Walker in Juneau telling the current AG she better be working hard to bring in votes – more votes than Gara can bring – if she wants to keep her job. That is how Walker and his minions work.

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