“The time has come for America to change the guard from a culture of corporate corruption and lobbyists, to one which will demonstrate ethics and accountability. It is my wish that as we enter this new era, we as Democrats will represent the best in American principles. That our policies, both foreign and domestic, will demonstrate a moral courage so great that America will not merely be feared but once again admired by the world.”
Diane Benson knows firsthand how poor national leadership can drastically change your life. In 2006, her only son, Sgt. Latseen Benson, was severely injured in Iraq, losing both his legs in addition suffering other serious wounds. As a devastated mother, Diane spent three and half months by her son’s side at Walter Reid Army Medical Center. Throughout this sobering time, Diane gained a heightened compassion for Americans’ needs, and she realized that our country’s brave soldiers were being short changed by the government rather than getting the respect and care that they deserve. In addition to addressing the needs of our veterans, Diane, as Alaska’s representative in Washington, will be committed to promoting peace, caring for and ensuring equal treatment all people. If elected, Diane would be the first Native American woman to serve in Congress.
Diane’s heart-wrenching yet inspirational story is one of obstacles overcome through determination, hard work and her steadfast resolve to stand up for her principles. Diane has worked since she was 12 years old bouncing between families and schools; living in logging camps, fishing villages and at times homeless. Facing constant abuse and neglect; Diane became one of the growing number of rape victims in America. Refusing to give up, Diane pushed ahead. The birth of her son in 1979 drove Diane to re-double her efforts to improve her life. As her goals became larger than survival, Diane fought to provide a better life for her son. Working her way through college as Alaska’s first female Teamster concrete-mixer driver, she found higher education to be her path out of poverty. In 1975 Diane became one of the first women tractor-trailer drivers on the Alaska pipeline.
Diane’s record proves that she is a leader and champion for those without a voice. While working with a major film studio, Diane defended her employees from being exploited because they are were Alaskan Natives, who weren’t fluent in English. At the risk of losing her contract and possibly her livelihood, she refused to accept that her employees should be paid less than the dogs on the set or forced to perform semi-nude. The film studio backed down.
In addition to being an advocate for ending violence against women and an activist in the Native American community, Diane has become an inspirational speaker, video production consultant, published writer and dramatist. A graduate from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles with a Bachelors degree in Theatre, Diane has worked in film production, writing and research, and co-produced a PBS documentary about Alaska Civil Rights. Diane’s community involvement has included service on the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce’s Military Appreciation Committee, two terms as President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood and an active membership in the National Organization for Women.
As a long time resident of Alaska, Diane is greatly concerned about environmental issues, she knows that Alaska is on the frontline of climate change and adamantly encourages Alaskans to commit to environmental change on all levels. This includes ensuring responsible petrochemical extraction and processing, as well as increasing the standards for fuel efficiency. With Alaska’s wealth of hydrocarbons, solar exposure, and thermal energy, Diane knows her state is in a unique position to lead the world in the development of wind, thermal, and tidal power solutions. She strongly supports federal legislation modeled after California’s Solar Power Initiative. This legislation gave consumer’s tax and industry-backed incentives for investing in solar power and, once elected, Diane will push Alaska to follow a similar path.
Reflecting the progressive values that 21st Century Democrats promotes, Diane believes that healthcare is a human right and must be accessible to all. Elevating the health of all Americans will create a happier, healthier population and in turn benefit the economy with a healthier workforce. Working to end violence against Native women and improving the actions of the justice system continue to be important issues to Diane. She believes that better state-tribal relations, more funding for crisis centers, education of law enforcement officers, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health and other programs would help the violence crisis in the state.
Diane’s opposition to the war and disgust at the poor treatment of veterans like her son prompted her to challenge long-serving Congressman Don Young in 2006. Under-funded and without national support, Diane gave him the closest race he had faced in decades. She was willing to take him on again before his ethical troubles gained traction and other Democrats decided to enter the race.
Today, 21st Century Democrats is proud to endorse Diane Benson for Alaska’s Representative in Congress. Her continued courage and determination in the face of overwhelming odds makes us confident that Diane will always fight for the best interest of all Alaskans. Her record proves that she is a strong advocate for equal rights and can effectively organize and communicate on behalf of the community.
Race Type: Democratic Challenge
Primary Election Opponent: Ethan A. Berkowitz
Primary Election Date: August 26, 2008