Republican Rep. Sarah Vance issued an apology on Sunday for a now-deleted Facebook Live video where she used a stack of letters from high school students as a prop to question Alaska’s education system.
In the now-deleted video, Vance read off a handful of letters from students that told her not to cut activities or athletics, using them as evidence that the education system was coming up short. Chief among her complaints was that students hadn’t properly addressed her as “Representative Vance.”
“This is troubling to me. We have many opportunities to engage our students on the proper way to talk to their representatives, to have a listening ear with those who represent them in government,” she said in the 7-minute video that was posted after a meeting with Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy. “We can talk to them in English class on, ‘This is how we write a letter, this is how we address it, this is how you can convey your ideas, your concerns and sign your name on the bottom.’”
Needless to say, the video did not sit particularly well with her constituents since it was originally posted early last week, and had quietly circulated through political circles over the week. We highlighted the video in our Friday in the Sun column (where you can still go see it).
In the Sunday video, Vance struck a very different tone.
“I want to extend a sincere apology to the high school students at Homer High School for making you feel devalued and that your voice didn’t matter,” she said. “In my previous Facebook video on education, I talked about the postcards that you had sent in a way that had caused you pain, and that was not my intent. Please hear my heart, I truly care about what you have to say, and I want to hear from you, but I was not respectful to you and for that I’m truly sorry.”
While most legislators have been inundated by a public upset with the cuts proposed by the governor, Vance has been on the receiving end of particularly tough town halls. It probably doesn’t help that she’s been one of the closest defenders of the governor’s budget and countered public opposition by reminding them that she beat Rep. Paul Seaton in the last election.
“I will not ignore the vote of the people. All of you matter, but you do not represent all of the district,” she said at the Homer town hall two weekends ago.
Vance closed out her apology video, asking that she be judged not by her comments bashing students’ letter-writing abilities and by her actions on the budget. But if you were hoping that she’d commit to protecting current education funding, you’ll be disappointed.
“I truly care about education and I want to be an advocate to help reduce the cost of education in our government to protect your schools, so that your children can have a quality education,” she said (Our emphasis added). “I hope that my future actions on education will speak louder than the hurtful words.”