By Dave Donaldson
Congressman Don Young and his challenger, Democrat Harry Crawford, today faced an audience in Juneau more interested in specific issues than in personal ones.
Young says he voluntarily stepped down from positions that would have allowed him to use his thirty-eight years of seniority until ethics investigations were completed. He told member of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce that he’s now ready to go back to work.
And I am in a position to be chairman of a committee again. And I will probably be a chairman. Hopefully, of Transportation – which I was able to pass SAFE-T Lu. It brought Juneau Ninety-two million dollars. Now that may be pork – I’m sure Harry supports that. That is an earmark that I have the ability to do for you. I will continue to do that to the United States Congress for you because you’ve asked me to do that.
Crawford said that as a Republican, Young faces a majority of Democrats in the House, the Senate and the White House. And says the congressman has not shown he is able to work with them.
I wonder how it is that you’re going to change things to get the Alaska Gas Pipeline, to get ANWR opened, to get the bridge into the NPR-A, to et drilling going in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea if you’re their worst enemy and have a hard time working with them?
Young predicts the nation’s voters will repudiate Democratic leadership in November, repeating his prediction that he will be a chairman next year.
The forum was mostly directed by the audience, however. And their questions covered a broad range of issues that the two could face. For example — a recent Forest Service decision not to follow the Tongass Land Management Plan. Both Young and Crawford agreed the Agriculture Department had overstepped its authority. Crawford called it a reason he should be in Congress.
I think you need someone that’s inside the tent to go and convince him that we can have sustainable here in the Tongass. And I will do that.
The two also agreed on the need for more and better use of sustainable and renewable energy. Crawford has been a promoter of specific projects – such as the Fire Island Wind Power farm in Anchorage, and development of the Chakachamna hydro project. Young, however, found the shortcoming to be at the state level.
The state has not been aggressive enough. This administration doesn’t consider Hydro as renewable. They don’t count that. The best renewable resource that we’ve got, especially in Southeast Alaska, is hydro. There shouldn’t be any diesel fuel burnt anywhere in Southeast with the potential that we have.
The personal issue did come up, however … from the candidates. Crawford said eighty percent of Young’s campaign contributions come from out-of-state sources.
He represents big corporations and moneyed interests from around the country. I represent Alaskans. I’d like to bring this congressional seat back to control by Alaskans.
And Young says he is relying on his longevity in office – while recognizing his sometimes-strident appearance.
Everybody knows me in Congress, and they all know me to the point where someone loves me and someone hates me. But they all respect me because I speak for this state.
The two candidates will meet again in Fairbanks on the 25th of this month.