Commentary: Young and Sullivan deserve reelection

Rep. Don Young at the Cordova Center. (Aug. 31, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

By Carl Marrs
For The Cordova Times

The political situation in Alaska is at an all-time low. All the money pouring into Alaska from the far-left elements of the Democratic Party is unnerving and it is wrong for Alaska. We have always been a very independent state and very much opposed to federal control over our lives and have fought hard to make this state a better place to live by making our own decisions.

Just a little history, we have not always agreed with everything that our Alaska Delegation has done in Washington, D.C., but when looking at the vast majority of things that have gotten done by our current Republican Congressional Delegation, they have done very well for us. The short period of time in the recent past that we had one senator from the Democratic Party in D.C. to represent us, very little got done. In fact, I believe we moved backward on issues important to Alaska because Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and their Senate enforcers would not allow our Democratic senator to do anything for Alaska. Now Schumer and liberal groups are pouring millions into Alaska to elect a guy that says he’ll be “independent” and make things better for Alaska. How naive can he be?  He will do whatever Sen. Schumer tells him to do or he won’t be on any important committees and will be totally ineffective.

I’ve spent the better part of 45 years working on Legislation in DC that not only benefited our Alaska Native Community but also Alaska as a whole. When I look at where we were as Native Corporations 45 years ago, compared to where we are today, it’s like night and day. The Native Corporations of today are a huge benefit to Alaska with heavy investments in Alaska, as well as investments outside of Alaska that bring revenue back to Alaska, to help out our economy. We are now one of the largest contributors to Alaska’s economy, through not only our Corporations, but through our non-profits, health facilities, tribes and the many contributions that we give collectively throughout Alaska. If it wasn’t through the hard work, over many years, of our Republican Delegation in D.C., we wouldn’t have what we have today.

Here are some examples of the incredible work that our Republican Delegation in D.C. has done over the years that benefited all of us living in Alaska. I start with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, which was signed by President Nixon; The 1987 Amendments to the ANCSA, which was signed by President Reagan; The 1993 Fur Seal Act signed by President Reagan and introduced by Don Young; The 1976 Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act signed by President Ford; The Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, which was signed by Clinton, but passed when there was a Republican majority in the House and Senate; The 2006 Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, which brought us the CDQ Program for Western Alaska, which was signed by President Bush; The 2002 Rural Services Improvement Act, which brought us the bypass mail program, sponsored by Ted Stevens, and amended in 2005 to make major improvements to that act; The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which provided for Oil and Gas leasing in ANWR and provided substantial tax benefits for Alaska Native Corporations and their Shareholders, through a significant expansion in the benefits our Settlement Trusts can provide to our Elders and others, all of which were sponsored by our Alaska Delegation, Dan Sullivan, Lisa Murkowski and Don Young and were signed into law by President Trump; The 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, signed by Donald Trump; The 2019 John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, which made important improvements for ANCSA Corporations, sponsored by Senator Murkowski and signed by President Trump; The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which made major improvements to the Native SBA 8(a) program, was sponsored by Senator Sullivan and signed by President Trump.

This list could go on and on, but the point is that all this legislation benefited all of Alaska, bringing billions of dollars to our economy and improving all our lives. The improvements, over the last 50 years, in our rural communities are vast, in public health, clean water, sewer systems and in major social improvement for all of us.  We have a way to go yet, but we have come a long way in the last 50 years and so much of it was done with our Republican Delegation in Congress.

So, what is my point? We really need to think about who it is that will do the best job for Alaska and then vote for that person.

Will it be Mr. Gross, who undoubtedly will vote in lock-step with Sen.Schumer from New York because of all the outside money Schumer and the far left of the Democratic Party has poured into the Gross campaign, just as the last Democratic senator did? Many of you may have heard the claim by Mr. Gross and his outside supporters that Dan Sullivan supports Pebble mine development. I know Dan pretty well and I can say that’s a damn lie – Dan does NOT support development of Pebble.

Or will it be Ms. Galvin, who similarly will be totally beholden to Speaker Pelosi for the money Ms. Galvin has received from Pelosi and other Outside interests — we all know Pelosi, like so many far-left Democrats, wants to lock up Alaska and wants to do away with the ability of our Alaska Native Corporations to represent our people through Federal programs? For many years we have battled this long-term desire of the far left of the Democratic Party to lock up Alaska and shut down our development and I see Ms. Galvin as simply being the most recent embodiment of that effort.

Instead, I say that we need good people with proven records that can get things done for Alaskans and Alaska’s Indigenous Peoples. We have a great team in our current Republican Delegation, with Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski in the Senate, and Don Young in the House of Representatives. Some say Don is getting too old, well I say he is still the most effective person in the House and works on both sides of the aisle to get things done, and when he feels he’s too old to do the job, I’m sure he will step down and support the right person.

Alaska is going through some tough times, so we need people that have proven they love and support Alaska and are not beholden to outside interests such as the likes of Senator Schumer or Speaker Pelosi. The views in this Guest Editorial are my own personal views.

Carl Marrs is the CEO of Old Harbor Native Corporation. He previously served as both president and CEO at Cook Inlet Region Inc. He volunteers his time to community organizations, including Alaska Pacific University, the Boy Scouts of America and the Boys and Girls Club. The views in this column are Marrs’s personal views and are not necessarily the views of any organization with which he is associated.