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.