In a small campaign event with supporters in Homer, Rep. Don Young touted his years of experience and spoke of November’s upcoming election as a matter of keeping Alaska free.
Young, 87, has served 24 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and is up for reelection this November, against challenger Alyse Galvin. He is the Republican Party’s longest-serving member of the House.
Before that, Young, from Fort Yukon, was a teacher. He served as mayor of Fort Yukon from 1964-1968, and was a member of the Alaska Legislature from 1967-1973.
About 32 people attended a campaign event for Young at Land’s End Resort on Tuesday. It was organized by his campaign manager, Truman Reed, with help from local contact Cassie Lawver. Young was making a tour of the peninsula; he was in Sterling on Monday and Soldotna earlier on Tuesday, Reed said.
Among those in attendance at Land’s End on Tuesday was Alaska Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) and Alaska Republican Party District 31 Chair Jon Faulkner, who also owns Land’s End.
After he spoke, attendees asked Young about what he can do to help Alaskans with a variety of issues, from bycatch in Alaska fisheries to major infrastructure projects to education.
On bycatch, Young suggested a method of management which penalizes what he called “dirty” fishermen within the trawl industry to incentivize smaller bycatch numbers.
“You’re not going to get rid of the trawlers, but if you made them fish clean, you wouldn’t have that problem,” he said.
Young said he wasn’t confident that could be done soon, though. One event attendee pointed out that Canada has already taken successful steps to limiting bycatch in its fisheries.
Speaking about infrastructure, Young touted his role in advocating for the Alaska-Alberta Railway Development Corporation (A2A Rail) project, which President Donald Trump issued a presidential permit for in September.
He stressed the importance of maintaining state control over resource development projects on state land, and in general warned against heavy involvement from or reliance on the federal government in Alaskans’ daily lives.
Young also warned against Alaska relying on oil as its main source of revenue. He said diversifying Alaska’s economy can help weather the storms of when oil prices fluctuate.
“And when the oil prices go down, which they will, we’ll have these other things to keep it (the economy) up,” Young said. “And when the oil prices go up, we’ll have that much more to play around with. But to be dependent on one source of income in the running of this state is not good business.”
On the subject of education, Young, a former public school teacher, said he does support private and charter school options but also thinks the state ought to be able to improve its public education as well.
“We don’t teach history … and we don’t teach economics,” Young said. “Most young people haven’t the slightest idea where money really comes from and what it’s worth.”
Young told the small crowd that local Alaska communities should control and fund their schools on the local level through their school boards, rather than rely on the federal government or even the state for funding.
“Since when was it the responsibility of the state to fund schools?” Young said. “Read the (Alaska) Constitution. That’s when we got the oil money, we started financing the schools. And everybody said ‘oh well that’s easier than me raising my taxes on myself,’ but you lost control of your schools.”
On more general terms, Young spoke of his commitment to the Second Amendment.
“The Second Amendment is the most important amendment of all the amendments we have, and it protects the First Amendment better than anything else,” Young said.
Young encouraged those gathered to vote, and to make sure their friends and family are also voting in the November election. He likened the Democratic Party to a “socialist reign,” and said Sen. Dan Sullivan’s reelection is key to retaining Republican control of the Senate.
“It’s a socialist group,” he said. “But if Dan is elected, we control the Senate so we can stop it. That’s really crucial, actually more so than my election.”
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Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct a quote that had been transcribed incorrectly. In speaking about school funding, Rep. Don Young used the word “financing.”