Rep. Young calls for state support of Sturgeon appeal

U.S Rep. Don Young speaks to the Capital City Republicans and Capital City Republican Women at the Prospector Hotel April 4, 2016. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)
U.S Rep. Don Young speaks to the Capital City Republicans and Capital City Republican Women at the Prospector Hotel. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)

Congressman Don Young called on Juneau Republicans on Monday to support legislative funding for John Sturgeon’s legal fight over operating a hovercraft in a national preserve.

Young also said that while he’s running for re-election, when the time comes for a successor, Alaskans should choose someone who’s young.

Young, 83, told the Capital City Republicans and Capital City Republican Women on Monday that it takes decades to build up seniority and effectiveness.

“Now, that’s something I want you to keep in mind. If you replace me someday, please get a younger person,” Young said. “Not that I have anything against mature citizens. I want you to know that. Just because you have to have someone that serves in the House for more than 25 years. And that’s a big dedication.”

Young said Congress is less effective than it once was. He said that’s because committee chairs have lost power.

“When I was chairman of transportation, I ran the Congress,” Young said. “I’m not braggin’ now, but I had 75 votes. I had Democrat votes, and I had Republican votes. They were loyal to the committee … if the speaker got frisky, and said, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that,’ I said, ‘You watch me.’”

Young used colorful language during his speech. He’s a former teacher, and he endorsed corporal punishment and criticized laws that prevent 15-year-olds from working.

“A lot of what we do is (done) incorrectly, as far as education goes. It’s requirements of the federal government to get the federal dollar,” Young said. “We’re hooked on this sugar tit, is really what it is. And we’re not educating our students. I will tell you. I don’t think I could teach today, because I can’t thump somebody.”

Young encouraged the audience to support state funding to back Sturgeon’s lawsuit. The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed Sturgeon a partial victory and sent his case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Young predicted that the federal appeals court won’t change its opinion, and the case will return to the Supreme Court.

Young spoke again in Juneau on Tuesday at a Native issues forum put on by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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