47 Years Later, Young Wants To Keep Representing Alaskans

Oct 20, 2020

Credit U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska is the longest serving member of Congress. In some respects, his opinion has not changed in those 47 years. He thinks that Alaska is a resource state, and that his job is to help the state build that economy. That means supporting the Donlin mine, and more. 

“When you have resource availability like the Donlin mine, it should be developed”, said Young, adding that “we are a resource oriented state. Always have been, always will be, and continue to be.” 

Young thinks that for the state to create more jobs from its resources, it needs to develop cheaper energy. He said that doing so is particularly important in the bush, which has some of the highest costs of energy in the country.

“We may be able to manufacture things if we get cheaper electricity. And that’s the biggest job, biggest challenge we have. We have not had an energy policy in this state for the last 45 years. Until we do that, I think my role is to make sure that we can get these projects done so people have a higher standard of living,” Young said.

During almost five decades in Congress, Young has seen the U.S. House of Representatives become deeply divided along party lines. He thinks it is a problem, but does not have recommendations for fixing it. When Young first went to Congress, the role of Speaker of the House of Representatives was very different than now because committee chairs had more power.

“And now the speaker becomes the speaker of the party. And it shouldn’t be that way. The speaker is supposed to be the speaker of the House. And when I first was there for about 30 years, the chairmen of the House made the decision of what bills came to the floor. The speaker had nothing to do with it. So we were very bipartisan. It was never about a policy or philosophy. It was about solving a problem that existed,” said Young.

Young says campaign promises from his opponent mean little, because the job of being Alaska’s only congressman is a simple one: to respond to the needs of Alaskans.

“You hear a congressman say, 'I’m going to do this,' or candidate say, 'I’m going to do that,'” Young said. “They’re not being straightforward, because the job of a congressman is to speak for the people after he hears them.”

The entire interview with Rep. Don Young can be found on KYUK’s web site. Challenger Alyse Galvin is the Oct. 20 guest on “Coffee at KYUK.”