KNOM SPOKE TO EACH of the four candidates running for Alaska’s sole seat in the US House of Representatives. This interview profiles Don Young, Republican incumbent.
Background: Congressman Don Young first entered public service in 1964 when he was elected Mayor of Fort Yukon. Two years later, Alaskan voters elected him to the State Legislature in Juneau, where he served in the State House from 1966 to 1970, and later in the State Senate from 1970 to 1973. Just hours after being sworn in to United States House of Representatives in 1973, he found himself leading the historic battle for approval of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. He’s been the Congressman for Alaska for 43 years.
Why run for Congress?: Young likes being the spokesperson for Alaska, the lone Congressman to represent the people of Alaska. He wants to continue to learn new things and continue his work by helping at least one person each day while he is in office. Eventually, he will have to step down, but he says that time isn’t now.
Education: Young believes that all children have a right to study in safe and productive learning environments and that America has a responsibility to provide exemplary education across the board. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the primary legislative vehicle that Congress uses to set the federal government’s K-12 education policy. Young wants to update ESEA, which he feels has long been overdue since it has not been reauthorized since the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was signed into law in 2002.
Reaction to State Budget/Economy: Young says, even though he is a supporter of oil, currently Alaska has become too dependent on oil. He would like Alaska to use other sources of power that come from our natural resources and stimulate the economy by generating “new wealth” from those resources.
Rural Alaska/Arctic Issues: For Young, developing Arctic ports, like the one in Nome, is a priority. In terms of addressing issues in rural Arctic Alaskan communities, Young says he has done a lot already to help fix water and sewer problems, but it’s not all finished, yet. He says his priority is providing clean drinking water to those rural communities that are without it.
Energy/Oil: Young would like to focus on Alaska’s other resources, not just oil. Finding a way to store wind and solar power in a battery, perhaps involving the process of changing a molecule of electricity or energy into a free-flowing liquid that could be stored for a long time, would allow for an availability of reasonably priced energy, says Young.
Opioids and Drugs: There was not enough time during the interview to ask Congressman Don Young about his policy on opioid drugs and how he would deal with the epidemic currently facing both Alaska and the nation. However, more information about his policy on healthcare can be found on his website.
Final Thoughts: Young hopes to leave a legacy of being known “for responding to the needs of the people individually.” Through his legacy, Young says he hopes to counteract the loss of freedoms people of Alaska have been experiencing over time.