BY ADELLE LaBRECQUE
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
As many of you already know, State House Representative Justin Parish, was also a graduate of UAS here in Juneau, as well as a reporter for The Whalesong.
The following is an excerpt from an interview with him in his office on Friday, Feb. 24. To those reading this article who may feel as if their voice and “role” in politics is insignificant or limited, (as I did), Rep. Parish emphasizes that you have a much larger voice than you think. Moving forward with goals does happen with hard work, planning, persistence, and some compromise.
Adelle LaBrecque: “Did you foresee yourself in politics when you were a student at UAS?”
Justin Parish: “While I was a student at UAS, I did serve as Student Senator, which was about as far as my political ambitions extended at the time. I didn’t have any expectation of entering politics or serving at a higher level.”
LaBrecque: “But you were just really moved by how much change that someone can make, is what I understood by some of the interviews that I’ve read.”
Parish: “Yeah. Every step of the way I’ve been surprised by the degree of positive change you can effect, by stepping up to a higher level of service. You can do more good. Every step along the way.”
LaBrecque: “I feel you’ve created a great example for a lot of young people…How did you feel when you were going through all of this before the election?”
Parish: “In a lot of American politics today there’s a sense of helplessness. We look at the problems unfolding in front of our eyes and we think “Wow, there’s nothing I can do about that.” And that’s…just not so. It’s difficult, it takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of sacrifice, but we can affect positive change in the world using political engagement as a tool. We can use the power structures we’ve set up we can take control of them again, and make sure that they’re serving us. Serving Americans, Alaskans, UAS students…but the fact is that if we stay at home, if we disengage we are giving our power, giving our share of influence over to more established interests.”
LaBrecque: “Do you have a “mantra” that you carry with you?
Parish: “I could tell you what got me through election season: “Ay oh, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry, I’m not throwin’ away my shot.” …Making sure that our government runs efficiently and that it serves the people to the best extent that it can. I suppose if I had to point to one characteristic that I want to see in government, I would say, “efficiency.” I recognize that’s a word that which is generally used as a code name for smaller government, for cutting government jobs, but that’s not how I see it. I think that if we employ three teachers instead of two, and all of the students do twice as well, I think that we’ve really found an area of efficiency. “Efficacy” might be the better word.”
Rep. Parish welcomes comments and input from the public at Representative.Justin.Parish@akleg.gov.