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January 4, 2018
Dear Friends,
First, Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were peaceful, and that you are beginning the New Year with optimism and hope, despite the many challenges that face us.
As with all things, we had some setbacks last year, but we also had many successes. Here locally, we are pushing forward with an aggressive initiative to help move the homeless debate forward in a way that offers opportunity and hope for our downtown residents, our homeless population, and for Alaskans. My new staff assistant Joshua Spring, with help from Jeffrey Eide, has moved this agenda forward and we are looking forward to more progress in the coming months. 
On the energy front, my Chief of Staff, Dr. Sydney Lienemann has successfully worked to identify ways for us to increase rural energy efficiency and has helped develop legislation that we think will make alternatives more accessible to urban Alaskans as well. These efforts will help transform our state for generations. 
In the Education Committee this session, we will continue to pursue an evidence-based Pre K agenda and improvements to how our education system works in Alaska. All three of these initiatives: Homelessness, energy, and education are essential to the long-term success and opportunities we expect from our state. But none of this will matter if we cannot get our fiscal house in order. To that end, I will be proposing a new Constitutional amendment that seeks to preserve the Dividend while allowing for the use of earnings of the Permanent Fund for operating expenses. 
I will continue to fight for a fair income tax that ensures the wealthy will pay their share of any tax burden, and I will continue to work toward a sustainable budget the ensures a meaningful quality of life for all Alaskans. In all of these efforts, I will be reaching out to you to ask your support as we work to build a better Alaska together.
Finally, I want to take a moment to again remember my friend and former staff member Richard Benavides who passed away last year. His commitment to serving the public remains my commitment. 
´╗┐There is a new year before us. Let us work together to make it as successful as it can be as we build a sustainable future for all Alaskans. Although we have a lot of obstacles before us, my vision remains one of great hope and excitement for what we can do to transform our state. I hope you will join me in this optimism. Please feel free to reach out to me or any of my staff to discuss your ideas and vision for the future. I look forward to working with you and for you down in Juneau. 
Senator Begich with a t-shirt from
Begich Middle School 
All my best,
Senator Tom Begich 
Senate District J
Meet the team!
Sydney Lienemann is originally from New York and first moved to Alaska after college as an AmeriCorps VISTA working on improving energy access for rural communities. 
After leaving to attend graduate school in Colorado, she worked on Arctic energy security at the U.S. Department of State and as a Science Fellow in the Office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich in Washington, DC. 
She is pictured above with the first, and only, fish she ever caught. 
She is looking forward to working on clean energy, education, and innovation in the coming session. You can email her at
Joshua Spring was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He grew up in a home with a strong emphasis on Public Service. After graduating from East High School, he went on to obtain a Bachelors in Political Science and a Paralegal Certification with a focus on immigration law from UAA.
Since then, Joshua has had a collection of jobs ranging from Assembly Aide, Community Organizer, Paralegal, and many things in-between.
He’s lived in neighborhoods from Mountain View to Fairview, North Star to Turnagain. He’s a firm believer in grassroots politics and gets a lot of joy reading and talking about Roman history. You can reach him at
The Story of Cannon Court
In 1937, 80 years ago, a one block street was named West 15th Terrace, and it had a big sister, East 15 Terrace, two and half blocks long. As short as West 15 Terrace was, it had even less homes than possible because some homes placed on the street were addressed to the cross streets…but that smallness made every neighbor count.
So, in 1966, 31 years later, when John and Ann Cannon moved in to their corner home, the neighborhood wanted to welcome them with open arms to West 15th Terrace. Because they didn’t have time to introduce themselves beforehand, every neighbor arrived on John and Ann’s doorstep New Year’s Eve with the stuff parties are made of. It was a great welcome and for many years afterward John and Ann welcomed all into their home for a “practice New Year’s Eve” on December 30th…allowing everyone to have the actual event with friends and family.
This year, when the first responders complained there was confusion about the street name, the city was quick to fix the situation by changing the name of West 15th Terrace to Yenta, for a river nearby.
The neighbors were highly indignant, after 80 years, how could there be any confusion? A neighborhood meeting was called and they decided if the name was to change, they wanted a part in it.
Neither John or Ann attended that meeting and were totally surprised by the honor bestowed upon them by their neighbors: to rename 15th Terrace to Cannon Court, named after them.
John and Ann still live in the same home where they raised two sons but the neighborhood has changed in 51 years. Most of the neighbors from the old days have moved and some have passed away, so John and Ann were surprised when they were remembered by the neighbors they now have. Though their address actually is not on Cannon Court (it's on one of the cross streets), John and Ann are obviously not forgotten in their neighborhood or by their neighbors.
- Kayla Epstein 
(907) 465-3704 Juneau 
(907) 269-0169 Anchorage