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Don Young answers questions about issues in the 2014 election for U.S. House

  • Author: Alaska News
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published October 14, 2014

Don Young - Republican

Office: U.S. House. Other candidates: Forrest Dunbar (D), Jim McDermott (L).

1. Why are you running for office?

I am proud to represent the strong and vibrant state of Alaska. Throughout my time in Congress, I have fought hard to protect the unique beauty, abundant resources, and resilient people of our state. I have had many successes, however, there is still more work to accomplish. I believe my experience, relationships, and passion for the job make me the best candidate for the position.

2. Alaska has the highest rate of welfare recipients among all 50 states. What steps would you take to reduce that figure?

As a Christian, I have compassion for those who are truly in need. Many Alaskans fall through the cracks and need assistance. In these situations, I believe in offering a helping hand up, but not a handout. Too often, policies of that sort encourage poor behavior and a lack of self-responsibility. I support policies that require job training or work requirements for receiving benefits and getting individuals back into the workforce, rather than perpetuating a cycle of unemployment and poverty.

3. Alaskans often criticize federal overreach; at the same time, the federal government is as important as oil to the economy, supporting about one-third of the state's jobs and pumping billions of dollars annually into Alaska. Would you advocate more or less federal spending in Alaska? What programs would you reduce or increase to achieve your goal?

Despite the growing debt, there are programs critical to Alaska's economy that must remain funded. Alaska offers the best strategic defense location in the world, and I have always fought to ensure funding for defense remains in Alaska, such as basing the F-35's at Eielson AFB. Additionally, Alaska provides unique challenges and I have always fought to protect programs like the Denali Commission and funding for highway projects, ports, and rural water infrastructure.

4. What are three bills you will introduce or three efforts you will undertake -- or some combination -- to improve the state's economy?

My top three legislative priorities have remained the same during my tenure. First, ensuring access to our federal lands and resources; second, building Alaska's infrastructure; and third, promoting a strong national defense and providing the resources to care for our veterans. All three components are crucial to a vibrant economy in Alaska, and I'll continue to fight against the Obama Administration's waterfall of regulations pouring out of federal agencies that hinder the state's progress.

5. What are three bills you will introduce or three efforts you will undertake -- or some combination -- to address social issues in Alaska such as the high rates of suicide, sexual abuse and domestic violence?

I will strive to increase funding for Victims of Crime Act programs and Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant programs, which help states provide emotional rehabilitation for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. They also help law enforcement catch perpetrators by funding enhanced information sharing and DNA analysis. I will also fight to extend the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, which supports statewide youth suicide intervention and prevention strategies.

6. What authority should Alaska Native tribes and villages have over civil and criminal justice matters, and what rights should they have to regulate hunting and fishing on native land?

Whether Native communities have jurisdiction and capacity for law enforcement and judicial matters is an unresolved and longstanding question for the State. Native communities' best understand the needs of their people. Alaska Natives should have a seat at the table when decisions are made that impact subsistence and when it comes to management of wildlife on their land.

7. Would you take steps to change or repeal the Affordable Care Act? What would the changes be? If you favor repeal, what would you replace it with?

I know Congress can and will work towards better ways to expand access and lower costs for health care. The Affordable Care Act was not the appropriate way to reform health care; these reforms should have been done in small bills, rather than a federal overhaul with thousands of pages. I have supported bills in Congress with specific reforms such as eliminating preexisting condition prohibitions, raising the age for children to stay on their parents' plans, and buying plans across state lines.

8. Should the United States have "boots on the ground" in the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq? If not, what are the circumstances under which we should consider such action? And what other action should the U.S. take against Sunni militants in the Middle East?

The reality of this situation cannot be understated. ISIL is a grave regional threat and rapidly emerging as a global security risk. I do not support returning combat troops to Iraq to fight a war that we left two years ago, though, we do need to train and equip other civilian and militant groups to fight back against extremism and continue airstrikes to support these groups. We must stand strong with other countries against radicalism, while avoiding putting Americans in imminent danger.

9. What role do human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases play in climate change?

I recognize that the climate is changing and the U.S. should reduce emissions, however we must adopt policies using incremental improvements and technological innovations. In contrast, the EPA has begun regulating emissions without authorization from Congress. Congress should be responsible for imposing life-altering and economy-changing regulations rather than a few unelected bureaucrats in a federal agency. This action marginalizes Congress and our system of representational democracy.

10. What legislation currently in Congress comes closest to the policy you would advocate for dealing with climate change?

Our nation can continue to reduce emissions by increasing development of renewable and alternative forms of energy and deploying technology that improves power plant efficiency and reduces emissions. There are a variety of all-of-the-above energy bills in the House, such as the House passed H.R. 2, which would incorporate regulatory reform and streamline both fossil and renewable energy development. Unfortunately, like many good bills passed by the House, the Senate has not acted on this bill.

11. Coastal erosion is a serious issue in a number of rural Alaska villages, with discussions about relocating some communities. Do you believe this is appropriate or realistic? Explain.

First and foremost, any decisions regarding village relocation must reflect the will of village residents themselves. These communities have the right to be directly involved in shaping every aspect of considering, planning, and carrying out any relocation efforts. The challenges that these communities face from coastal erosion are tremendous and there are no easy solutions. However, I will continue to secure federal funding and resources for villages to help make relocation a viable option.

12. How important a priority is reducing the federal deficit? Explain.

I am deeply concerned with the $17.8 trillion national deficit. No country can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law huge spending increases as "investment," yet, the unemployment rate remains high and trillions have been added to our debt. This does not even include his health care entitlement program. The President's budget takes money from hard-working American families, rather than independently empowering the American people.

13. If you had to give the current Congress a letter grade, A through F, what grade would you give and why?

I would give the current Congress a C. The House has passed important legislation this year, including the Coast Guard Reauthorization, Keystone XL pipeline, Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, and Offshore Energy and Jobs Act; however the Democrat-controlled Senate refuses to act on these and other extremely important bills for our nation. This deliberate inaction by the Senate hinders the progress of the overall Congress, stalls job-creating projects, and hurts our economy.

14. Should the U.S. tax code be simplified? Is it fair?

The U.S. tax code is not fair and should be simplified. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 25, the Fair Tax Act, which would abolish the IRS, repeal the income tax, and replace our former system with a national sales tax. The complexity of the current tax code is difficult for Alaskans to navigate and equally hard for the IRS to properly enforce. Honest Alaskans face federal fines for accidental omissions while tax evaders slip through the cracks unnoticed, lost in the bureaucracy of the IRS.

15. Name a specific federal environmental regulation you'd like to see rolled back, and why.

Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA's regulatory reach was deliberately limited to navigable waters; designed to leave regulation of other areas to the states. However, I am opposed to the Obama Administration's proposed rule to dramatically extend the reach of the federal government when it comes to regulating ponds, ditches, and other wet areas. The rule would expose landowners to expanded permitting/reporting requirements via a multitude of federal laws, and invite lawsuits.

16. Name a federal environmental regulation that you think provides important protections for Alaskans.

Fishery management measures from the North Pacific Council are enacted through National Marine Fisheries Service regulations. The fisheries in the North Pacific are the best managed and most productive in the world. Much of this success is the result of the Council process, which employs deliberative, science-based, and stakeholder-generated decision-making. This model is in stark contrast to the avalanche of top-down "Washington-knows-best" regulations pouring out of the Obama Administration.


Age: 81

Occupation: Teacher, Riverboat Captain, Representative

Current employer: U.S. House of Representatives

Employment history:

-Riverboat Captain, Self-employed, 1966-1972

-Teacher, Ft. Yukon Elementary School, 1960-1967

-Trapper, Self-employed, 1960-1967

-41st Tank Battalion, US Army, 1955-1957

Previous public offices held:

-Representative, US House of Representatives, 1973-present

-Senator, Alaska State Senate, 1970-1973

-Representative, Alaska State House of Representatives, 1966-1970

-Mayor, Ft. Yukon, 1964-1966

-City Council Member, Ft. Yukon, 1960-1964

Previous unsuccessful runs for office: N/A

Postsecondary education:

-BA, Chico State University, 1958

-AA, Yuba Junior College, 1952

Military service: 41st Tank Battalion, US Army, 1955-1957

Spouse's name: Lu Young (Deceased)

Children: Dawn, Joni

Alaska Dispatch News asked each candidate in the major races in Alaska this year to answer a series of written issue questions. Responses were limited to 500 characters.