Young Alaskans eye state’s future
Reinstate Alaska’s coastal management program and maintain the current oil structure — two of many recommendations from last week’s Conference of Young Alaskans meeting in Juneau.
Fifty-five delegates from 28 Alaska communities, all under the age of 25, plan to present their vision of the state to the Alaska Legislature in the spring.
As the 2012 conference came to a close Saturday, delegates proudly patted their peers on the back, congratulating each other on the final document they produced.
The phrases awe-inspiring, empowering, honored, and eye-opening were used countless times to describe the three-day conference. Every delegate seemed positively affected by the conference, including 18-year-old Brad Gusty from Stony River.
“I now know issues for other people in Alaska, like other communities and what they want,” he said.
COYA delegates bonded over their passion for Alaska as they discussed issues pertinent to the state. The final result of their discussion and debate was a document that represents the consensus of the group on five topics – economic resilience and fiscal policy, education, workforce development, energy, and living harmoniously. In addition to oil and coastal management, recommendations include, among other things, reinstating a state income tax, mandating that all utilities use net metering at competitive rates, and repealing Article 1, Section 25 of the Alaska Constitution, which describes marriage as between a man and a woman.
Twenty-year-old Leyonty Williams is one of several delegates selected to present the document to the legislature in March.
“We set aside our differences and just came together for something greater,” Williams said. “It was kind of funny because a lot of us were pretty upset when there was only like 98 percent (agreement). That just shows what high expectations we have for this and how unified we feel.”
In the final report, the delegates leave Alaskan leaders with this challenge: “Just as our predecessors challenged us, we challenge you to help others to love and cherish our homeland and lead Alaska forward.”
The final report will be available at youngalaskans.org later this month.
The entire 2012 Conference of Young Alaskans can be seen on statewide television, 360 North, beginning Wednesday at 8 a.m.