Rep. Ben Carpenter of Nikiski has filed to run for the Alaska Senate seat representing much of the North Kenai Peninsula. The incumbent in the Senate seat is first-term Sen. Jesse Bjorkman of Nikiski, who is a Republican member of the Democrat-dominated Senate majority.
Rep. Carpenter has called Alaska home for most of his life. Born to apple orchard farmers in eastern Washington state, as a child he moved to Alaska with his parents. He graduated from Nikiski High School and is a U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army veteran who deployed to the Middle East six times.
Carpenter first ran for House in 2016 and was easily reelected three times. He is chair of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, and serves on House Judiciary and State Affairs committees. He co-chairs the Victims Advocate Selection Committee.
When not serving in the Legislature, Carpenter and his wife manage a family farm growing commercial quantities of cut-flower peonies and they lead a farm cooperative that markets peonies to buyers in the Lower 48. They are parents and grandparents.
Bjorkman has the support of big labor unions and particularly the teachers union affiliates of the National Education Association. Bjorkman served as an officer for the Kenai Peninsula Education Association.
Jumping into the House District 8 race that Carpenter is vacating is John Hillyer of Soldotna. Hillyer is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and is a ham radio operator. Raised in a military family, he grew up in Hawaii and Japan, and has served all over the world as a fighter pilot.
Hillyer has a storied military career, with 32 years in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve, leading the 477th Fighter Group’s first Raptor unit as group commander at Elmendorf Air Force Base. He has flown with Alaska Sen. Mike Shower, who is also a retired Air Force fighter pilot. Hillyer now flies for FedEx.
Hillyer said that he wants to raise his family in a world that is going in the right direction. He added, “I am not a politician. But Ben [Carpenter] and I represent the same conservative platform and will be working to ensure District 8 and Senate Seat D are in the right hands.”