Paulette Schuerch: Rural Alaskans always adapt, and right now it means changing our U.S. senator

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By PAULETTE SCHUERCH

As Typhoon Merbok bore down on Northwest Alaska, we in the Northwest Arctic Borough braced for impact as the storm made a beeline for us. Tensions were high, but everyone pulled together to work together, communicate, and ensure that all in the community were safe. This is how it is in rural Alaska – we come together for the greater good. “Taikuulapiaq,” to those who called and checked on us, who offered help, and especially to those who roamed around our communities to ensure everyone’s safety.  We offer our prayers for those who were hit hard.  

For the last two years, we have been pretty much locked up due to COVID mandates. Some people lost jobs (including me) due to the pandemic, though I was lucky to have had a couple of opportunities during the midst of it all.  In the end, when you walked outside to feel and smell the fresh air, we had hoped the worst of it was over.   

But little did we know about what was lurking around the corner.   

A shipping bottleneck, runaway inflation, recession, higher gas prices, higher stove oil costs, increased utility costs, less food on the shelves, and increased food costs. The list continues to grow.   

Where do these problems all start?  Who makes these decisions?  The discussion over who is responsible must focus on Washington DC, where they make the decisions that affect everyone in the nation.  And maybe those decisions affect us even more here in Alaska. 

If you look online or see stories from the Lower 48, they’re talking about gas prices remaining above $4 per gallon in a lot of states, or even $5 in some places.  

If only that were true here in Alaska! How about us in rural Alaska? Some of our communities are paying $10 to $17 per gallon, plus local city tax. We are in the midst of fall hunting, which is meant to shore us up and prepare for the long, cold winter. Because of fuel prices, families will be making tough decisions in the coming weeks – how to keep a roof over their heads, how to cover utilities, how to heat the home, and cook the food, among many other concerns. 

We live here because these are our homelands, as they have been for thousands and thousands of years. And when we have needed things over time, we have adapted and changed. Our great-grandparents moved with the migration of our game and food opportunities, and we have since created these communities, our homes, our churches, and our schools.  

And so when we need change now, we must adapt again. And this time we can do it at the ballot box. 

I am Inupiaq and I vote!   

Because there are important decisions being made in Washington, D.C., I am actually frightened about what this winter will bring us besides cold blizzards and higher living costs. And I don’t believe that our senior senator is looking out for us.   

The decisions that Sen. Murkowski has made and the votes she has taken have hurt rural Alaska, crippling our economy by helping President Biden shut down our industries. 

I once supported Lisa Murkowski, and in fact, helped in rural Alaska with her famous write-in campaign in 2010. But I cannot support her any longer, because I don’t believe she supports us. And we know that Murkowski brags about her seniority in the Senate, but I can’t see where that has gotten us anything. 

That’s why I am enthusiastically supporting Kelly Tshibaka for US Senate. She has consistently traveled through rural Alaska, meeting with our people and hearing their concerns – even spending the night sleeping on the floor of a local school gym. 

So, when you slide behind that voting curtain, please join me in listing Kelly Tshibaka as your first choice on the ranked ballot. 

It’s time for a change. And electing a new senator is how we adapt. 

Paulette Schuerchwas born in Kotzebue and raised by her grandparents in Noorvik. She has fought for rural Alaska on the political stage, working for campaigns such as Governor Knowles, Governor Palin, Governor Walker, and Senator Murkowski’s 2010 write-in bid. She now supports Kelly Tshibaka for U.S. Senate. 

77 COMMENTS

  1. No thanks, Kelly is irresponsible and pilfers per diem and discretionary spending accounts. Imagine what kind of fraud or embellishment she would do with access to federal level dollars.

    • I see you’re following the troll ads put out by GOP Senator Mitch McConnell, Matt, like a good little liberal.
      How much is Ms. Murkowski worth now? Do you know?
      How much $ did her dad “The Bank” put in her oily pocket so far?

      • You might think I am offended at being called a liberal, and while I am certainly more liberal than nearly everyone on here, I am a proud registered republican. However, my political motivation has nothing to do with religion, or anything to do with being ordained as the second coming of jesus, its simply policy. When the right get religious, I move closer to the center. When policy is driven solely by a fictional book that is continually misinterpreted and twisted to confirm agenda, I move closer to center. Same thing is happening from the far left side; eliminating genders, eliminating individualism and personal identity/ agency, I move closer to the middle from them. I hold the radical left in the same category that I hold the insanely christian right – Crazy as hell. MRAK is just more entertaining to watch the devolving take place. its fascinating to see the crazies protect and idolize the 45th President. I also do occasionally take some good information to add to my perspective or even help change it, but that isn’t the goal of MRAK or its readers, it is to sling mud, talk about things that weren’t stolen as though ;they were, and spend time outside of the scary really real world that so few of us have any control over, that we can come gather in your safe space and share your distorted world views with others just like you. I can get the same response from the other end of the political spectrum from Reddit, you gotta do a little more work to find it from the right side, because there is so much fewer on the radical right, and big tech has done a lot to eliminate the right sided perspective.

        • Lots of words there Matt.
          Not a single one even comes close to answering the questions George asked.
          .
          Do you know what Murkowski is worth?
          Are you so sure that Murkowski never took advantage of perdiem, or moving funds? Can you demonstrate her innocence?
          .
          Since you are so on top of it, tell me. What contract did Kelly T. sign when she was PCS’d to AK? How many years was she required to work in that position to remove the requirement of paying back the moving costs?
          Do you know?

    • Keep sipping the Cool-Aide, Matt.
      Tell me, how does one pilfer per diem?

      “How easily the tools of a tyrant (that would be you, here, Matt) twist the simple meaning of words”
      ~Samuel Adams

    • So, you are listening to the anti-Kelly ads.
      Did you catch the one where they claimed she is running to stay on the Government Gravy Train? If serving as a US Senator is riding the gravy train, why is Murkowski running?

    • The devil can quote scriptures to his own liking…. Lies A could have run on name recognition and outspent others with frank the bank’s $$$$ and likely won. Instead, she accepted daddy’s appointment. Shows lack of character of both. Nepotism is never ok.

  2. Life has always been tough in the Alaska bush, especially in the hungry country of the Y-K Delta and the Arctic. The difference between those regions and the first-world living in Alaska’s cities and populated boroughs couldn’t be more stark.

    But let’s get real Paulette: will one senator make a meaningful difference in that difference? Go ahead; you should still vote your conscience; but don’t kid yourself that a would-be senator’s rhetoric and fairy dust will change anything.

    • Yes it’s only one senator but that one vote has spent a lot this term alone. Don’t discredit The power of One vote in the Senate. Just look at Murkowski teaming up with Collins and Romney. It’s like they get off on seven Republicans in the back and throw Cheney in the mix it’s even worse. Wyoming finally woke up and got rid of her and it’s Alaska’s time to wake up and get rid of lying Lisa.

    • What kind of argument are you making? “We are voting for only one Senator, so lets keep the bad one we have?” That’s just not making any sense to me.

    • Yes. One vote makes a difference.
      A single Present vote put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
      A single Yes vote put Deb Haaland in the Interior Secretary Office.
      .
      Does not matter which side of the political aisle you are on, Murkowski’s single vote has changed the political landscape of the nation.

        • So, Murkowski did not put Kavanaugh on the bench with her Present vote? Please explain how?
          Same with Haaland. Could have stopped that appointment, and gotten a less radical Interior Secretary, but Lisa voted yes. And put the stop on a lot of resource development in AK.
          .
          And you stop posting comments from behind a moniker first. There is no evidence whatsoever that your name is actually Maureen. If I were to change my user name to Maury Suttman would you have any additional information on who I am?
          .
          Dismissing this comment because of my username is no different than dismissing it because I accidentally typed “then” instead of “than”

    • One senator can make a world of difference when it comes to who controls the senate………..and the confirmation of judges.

      IMO that is far more important than per diem.

      Paulette: Thank you for you change of perspective. However, you need to concentrate your efforts and influence in the villages.

      I have lived in bush Alaska for 49 years and have never yet known an Alaska Native to vote republican.

      Please concentrate your efforts in that directions.

      • Thank you. If you looked at the results in 2020 and 2016 you’ll be surprised how many voted for President Trump. Look at Districts 37, 38, 39 and 40

  3. Paulette made a good case. I’m a life long Alaskan myself, and while I have never visited a Bush community, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for those who live there. They are among the toughest people and I have always felt that they would have the advantage when things got really bad in our world. They have the old ways to fall back on, with abundant natural resources out their back door. They know how to survive. Yes, one Senator can make a difference when we are facing tyranny and officials who intentionally brought about our recent hardships…made even harder for fellow Alaskans in remote places who already have a high cost of living. We gave Lisa more than enough opportunity and she didn’t come thru. It’s time for a change.

  4. Discouraging seeing libs showing up here Suzanne.
    They totally corrupted the ADN comment section until it was done away with due to all the “food fights”
    Perhaps a paywall would help?

          • Lucinda, your towering ignorance is once again clearly on display here.
            .
            I have stated on numerous occasions that I am NOT a conservative or right-winger, but a libertarian. But I know that in your simplistic, black-and-white, false dichotomy world, it is easy and natural to lump everyone who is not a radical leftist extremist, such as yourself, into the same undifferentiated mass of “the enemy”.

        • OK, how do I define right winger?
          Please share your thoughts.
          .
          Or should i just assume you are trying to close the argument? perhaps if you call me a Nazi, or a racist?

          • Hey Jefferson: I too am a Libertarian. And second a liberal. As a Libertarian, I wish everyone would do the right thing and leave me the hell alone. But humans don’t do that, so Libertarian ideology lasts about 5 seconds under the heat of reality.

            You’re a hoot! You claim l live in a “simplistic, black-and-white, false dichotomy world”. Hate to say it, but, Nuh Uh, you do. No one on this grievance share is more pigeonholed than you. There is Jefferson the Righteous and Right. And then there is everyone else. Everyone else is defined by a nasty noun with 11 comma-separated, equally nasty modifiers preceding it.

            You have high entertainment value, though. That’s not nothing.

        • Extremist right wing point of view.
          Exactly what I am asking you. How do you define extremist right wing point of view? What statements do I make the turns me into a right wing extremist?
          .
          I think government should be limited? Does that make me a right wing extremist?
          I think government should be held accountable to the people who elected them? Extremist?
          Oh, perhaps it is because I think government should not be spending as much as they are on stuff that is not really the role of government? Too far right wing for you?
          .
          If you are going to call me a right wing extremist, I need to have an idea what it is that I am actually saying. And, “your comments are right wing extremist” is not descriptive enough.

          • You are smart enough to get my point CB. If you insist on your inability to understand why one considers many of your comments coming from an extremist point of view, tough noogies to you.
            By the way you didn’t include your positions on gun control as an example of how “far right wing” you appear to be.

        • Still did not answer the question.
          .
          What threshold does one have to cross for you to declare them a right wing extremist?
          .
          No… saying my comments is evading the question.
          .
          Your personal opinion. I want to know what specifically makes a person a right wing extremist in your world.
          .
          If you cannot provide a line in the sand, where stepping over it someone becomes a right wing extremist, than your claim is nothing more than an attempt to close the argument. it is no different than calling me a racist, a Nazi, or a big-fat-doodiehead.

          • Just your opinion CB and doesn’t mean a thing. First of all I’ve not declared you a right wing extremist but have said you’ve made several comments that clearly label your comment as “extreme right wing.”\
            You don’t like it, tough noogies.

        • First of all, I never said you labeled me as anything. I am asking a question about your opinion. It is an attempt to understand the folks posting on MRAK.
          .
          “…you’ve made several comments that clearly label your comment as “extreme right wing.””
          What are those comments, and why do you, personally, think they are extremist?
          .
          Look, maybe reading comprehension is not your strong suit. Try to spend a few seconds and understand what someone else wrote before responding. This is not all that tough of a question to answer.
          .
          Question: “What do you consider “extremist” right wing?
          .
          There are no wrong answers to this question. It is your opinion. I am curious to learn about your thoughts on this topic.

        • “Your curiosity is not worth my time to participate CB. Like I said “tough noogies.”
          .
          Yet, you keep responding.
          And, continue to provide zero insight into your thought process.
          .
          I can only assume you have no supportable definition of “extremist right wing.”
          Will have to run with the assumption that it means anyone who disagrees with you.

        • “Run with whatever assumption you feel like. Tough noogies.”
          OK, my assumptions about you will be how I treat you.
          .
          Now, go off to the corner and color. Adults are talking.

    • George, I’m not so sure they’ve arrived spontaneously. I’m guessing their tickets has been purchased by others. Which is fine, it’s good to see the liberal mind wash up against logic and common sense.

    • George, I am actually encouraged by seeing leftists (do not call them liberals, there is nothing liberal about them) showing up here and commenting.
      .
      First of all, they are, at a minimum, reading a different point of view. That generally does not happen. Secondly, if they are commenting, people can discuss their positions, and rebut any points they make. This is open discussion and free speech in action.
      .
      Finally, I am sure if the comments sections starts getting corrupted, Suzanne will reign it back in.

      • CBMTTek, you consistently make very thoughtful, insightful and intelligent comments, and this forum is much the better for your participation here. Thank you!

        • Appreciate the support there Jefferson.
          Will continue to bloviate, opine, and blather on. You keep up the good work as well.

    • ADN shut down comments. Folks still working things out with their neighbors.

      Must read Alaska doesn’t say Mustread Alaska for only singleminded politicos.

      There is a mix of folks in the greater population.

      • And just WHY did the pathetic rump of the ADN shut down online comments, Maureen?
        .
        Answer: Because they are typical thin-skinned, arrogant, and intolerant radical leftists, who can brook no challenge or opposition to their radical leftist ideological orthodoxy.

  5. Good for you, for being independent-minded and ignoring all of the people who believe in political dynasties that last 40 and 50 years. Kelly Tshibaka will make a great US Senator.

  6. Yes, she’s not Lisa, and her name is Kelly Tshibaka to take lead as Senator for the great State of Alaska.

    It certainly time for change.

  7. Its amazing to me. Murkowski voted with Trump something on the order of 73% of the time during his administration and even that isn’t good enough for Trump loyalists. You either vote with the Dear Leader 100% of the time or you’re a traitor. And the Trump supporters are worried that Biden is a tyrant?

    How about having a dispassionate debate/discussion on the issues without loyalty tests and ad hominem? Is that even possible any more?

    • What is most fascinating, is the simple fact that Trump had every intention of running on the democrat ticket, not only until he was rejected by the Democratic party did he decide to run on the right. It was simply a challenge to him, never religious, never righteous, never wanted anything to do with conservative thinking, except after he was passed over by the left (pretty big mistake by them in retrospect).

    • Voting for a bill is only one part of the equation.
      And, Trump’s initiatives were not always best for AK, or the nation either.
      .
      Your assumption about Trump supports is wrong.
      .
      And, let’s actually have a discussion without ad hominem attacks. Here you start first by denouncing this: “…even that isn’t good enough for Trump loyalists. You either vote with the Dear Leader 100% of the time or you’re a traitor.”

  8. Meanwhile, back at the cattle ranch, Lisa reclines and sips her wine knowing that those machines lovingly referred to as “vote tabulators” can take care of this WHEN it becomes necessary. Actually, they are her only real hope from being sent down the road counting mailboxes as she so richly deserves to be…

  9. Lisa Murkowski made your voting choice easy come election day. In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, Lisa confessed to what many have suspected. She supports Joe Biden and plans to continue to do so if re-elected. In an incredibly ill-timed move, Lisa has foolishly made her reelection a referendum on Joe Biden. Nobody likes Joe Biden, not even Democrats. Even former Whitehouse spokesperson, Jen Psaki has seen the writing on the wall and has commented that if this election is a referendum on Joe Biden, Democrats will lose the election. Lisa isn’t smart enough to realize that Alaskans don’t like Biden’s inflation, high gas/food prices, and foolish spending bills that make the problems worse. Anybody dumb enough to continue to support Biden does not deserve reelection. We should be grateful Lisa has made things easy for us. If you like Joe Biden, vote for Lisa. If you think Biden is a senile buffoon that is harming the country, vote for Kelly Tshibaka. It’s quite a simple choice actually.

  10. Kelly is a grifter and has profited off of every governmental position she has held. She has been busted and sentenced for violating Alaska sportfish licenses for lying that she was a resident when she was not. She cannot hide her past and the recent ads prove her misconduct. She cannot be trusted and is no match for the billions that Murkowski has brought to rural Alaska. That is why the ANC’s and Alaska tribes are supporting Lisa, not Kelly.
    Rural Alaska has always been fleeced by snake oil salesmen and carpet baggers. Kelly is a carpet bagger who recently moved back to Alaska.

    Time for Kelly to take a hike and get a government job as a dog catcher. That way it would be hard for her to grift off that type of government job. Her annual grifting is more than what most rural Alaskans make.
    Paulette knows darn well that Lisa will take rural Alaska hands down because she “earned” it.

  11. It is easy to see that Murky has lasted well beyond her use by date however, a strategic individual looks to upgrade and anyone that looks simply to change horses is revenge voting and is making a recommendation for the least well thought out of reasons. Chewie is not what’s best for Alaska; she’s a blight that our governor invited up, paid dearly for, and has not demonstrated anything aside from the talents of yet another denizen of the swamp.

    I’ll be the first to suggest that we need better candidates but Ms. Schuerch’s ill considered rambling underscores that we badly need a better electorate as well.

    While we’re on the topic Ms. Schuerch, the key to not paying high fuel prices in rural areas is to move to where fuel prices don’t need to include outrageous barge transportation costs and exorbitant onsite storage costs. It might also be a good idea not to appropriate the voice of an entire populace simply because you think you can get away with it.

    • I refuse to move, that’s not the point. No one should have to move and the tagline “move” as an answer to all things. I’ve left my region several time, and I always come back, I love it here.

      • Great, don’t move… but it is the point. Stay where you like but don’t complain that someone else isn’t allowing you to cost average and don’t expect that the solution lies in an untried bureaucrat that’s so far demonstrated no understanding of cost control… or perhaps someone that leans towards uncontrolled spending is what you’re looking for? Who specifically is it that you want to pay the cost of your choice to live outside of Anchorage? Who should pay the difference between a $17 gallon of gas and the same gallon for five bucks here in the city?

        Many of us that live in Anchorage don’t like it and wish we could make a change in large part due to the Anchorage Assembly. Stabbings in the library, bums having conjugal visits on the sidewalk, murders propagated by those that have too much familiarity w/ our court system, outrageously shortsighted attempts to coddle societal detritus (many of whom are pariahs from villages not unlike yours). We don’t make the choice you have because it would be irresponsible for us to expect others to cover costs we either can’t or would prefer not to afford.

        Regardless, the answer isn’t an unskilled imposter looking for your vote and the way you find a better solution isn’t to grasp at any opportunity for change. Tsibaka is a chameleon that has fooled you into thinking she’s something she is not.

        I happen to still hold a glimmer of hope for our current governor Mr. Dunleavy however, the biggest gaff of his time in office has been paying to import this big government chameleon from the swamp and we should all be embarrassed by her willingness to portray herself as Alaskan yet clearly she’s a middle aged woman that’s lived most of her life on the east coast and now pretends to be one of us primarily in hopes of tricking people like you. I’ve lived here for more than a half century and if I’ve found a common thread amongst Alaskans it’s that they don’t like to be deceived by outsiders. You may be different.

        • Trousers, Paulette’s credentials are impeccable: She’s from Kotzebue and raised in Noorvik, and previously she’s campaigned for Knowles, Palin, Walker, and Murkowski. Her perspective is “slightly” gnarled, though Tshibaka would say “brilliant” nonetheless!

        • TB, you betray your own position with disrespect. Paulette has stated very well and respectfully that the woes we suffer in the Bush have been made dramatically worse by the current federal administration and that Lisa is committed to supporting that tyranny. I’ve met Kelly and she is the real deal – she will make a great senator! Lisa no longer supports anything that benefits Alaska and the deceitful dark money campaign she is waging trying to hide her own disrespect – even contempt – for what the majority of Alaskans believe and want is appalling. Vote for Kelly please!
          Thank you Paulette.

          • Any disrespect for the author is unintended, Rich.

            What could Ms. Tshibaka possibly have said that made you think she’s the real deal… whatever that might be? She takes pride in gov’t department growth and that’s probably not it. She completely botched her move to AK and that’s probably not it. She hasn’t’ done much of anything while here aside from tell everyone else how Alaskan she is and how bad Murky is.

            That doesn’t prove anything aside from her willingness to misrepresent herself. What made you a fan?

          • Thorn, I read Paulette’s “plea” and I am “highly unimpressed.” For her kind, it’s always somebody else’s fault for their displeasures. Is she the chief spokesman for Kotzebue or Noorvik and now angling to become Tshibaka’s staff assistant for rural affairs? She has a history of jumping around from Knowles to Palin to Walker and campaigning for Murkowski! There is no need to ask what she’s up to: it’s the Tshibaka shuffle!

        • I’m not looking for anyone to pay for me living where I want, this is MY choice not meant for you to suggest options. I’ve worked since I was 14, I rely on myself. There is nothing special about living in Anchorage, I have lived these while attending APU. Is it so hard to read an OpEd that you get so disgusted that someone speaks their thoughts and you hide behind a fake name because you are afraid of people calling you out? I love my community and I am not leaving

          • A fair riposte, Paulette! Where you live, definitely, is of no concern to anybody but yourself! So you are Inupiaq—other than being a gratuitous comment, what is the significance of that? Your own last name suggests, at the very least, a peripheral association with either the “high” Irish or the “low” Polish; that, though, doesn’t set off any alarms with me. And, yes, Anchorage isn’t necessarily a bad place to live, and APU is a beautiful campus. As to your op-ed piece, it is evident that you can write in complete sentences; your rationale, though, in promoting the “Tshibaka shuffle” is more than a bit ragged!

          • Was that a passive aggressive swing at my pseudonym?

            You understand that not everyone is professionally marginalized and yes, some of us do have something to lose for having spoken out on behalf of any cause. Those that don’t may want to consider working a little harder.

  12. I guess Kelly being on board with moving State Troopers from Rural Alaska to patrol the Valley was a good thing. The domestic abuse and rapes are put aside so Kelly can gather the Valley vote. Any reason why the Valley does not have its own police force ? Small government starts by having your own police force paid by your property taxes.

  13. Frankie and I have been hiding in Petersburg, Alaska waiting for this election to be over. It has divided our family. Alaskans are divided. Thank you, Paulette, for writing such a beautiful essay.

  14. Ms Paulette
    Thank you for spending the effort to be a responsible citizen. We can all argue names and parties, etc, but you have looked at what has happened the last few years, in our state and made a logical decision. I wish all citizens would do the same. How many people in this state vote a particular way because ‘that’s what they’ve always done’ or ‘that’s the way my friends/family want me to vote’? If each one of us removed the name of each candidate or their party affiliation and simply looked at their record and their platform, would we REALLY vote for the usual person? Maybe consider one of the ‘other’ candidates?
    If we are personally honest with ourselves, it makes for an interesting exercise.

  15. Paulette,
    I hope that you will look at Peltolas record of already not supporting us by not voting for her either.
    It is time we rid ourselves of these self serving politicians. Murkowsky especially
    Sadly, the dems vote in blocks and only the rare ones vote against the dem party, we cant even count on peltola to rally for us here in Alaska.

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