U.S. Rep. Don Young addresses a joint chamber luncheon at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Friday, April 9, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

U.S. Rep. Don Young addresses a joint chamber luncheon at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Friday, April 9, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Don Young presented with bipartisanship award

Young is the longest-serving Republican in Congressional history, having represented Alaska for almost 50 years.

U.S. Representative Don Young spoke at a joint luncheon with the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce on Friday and was presented with the Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. Chambers manager for the Northwest Region Shavenor Winters, who attended the luncheon remotely, presented Young with the award, which recognizes members of Congress who “demonstrate bipartisan leadership” and “constructive governing necessary to move our country forward.”

Young is the longest-serving Republican in congressional history, having represented Alaska for almost 50 years. Young said during the luncheon that over the course of his time in Washington, D.C., he has worked with 3,640 members of Congress and served under 10 presidents.

“I have never served with a stranger group than I’m serving with right now,” Young said. “I respect them each individually because they’re elected by the people, but I am a little concerned about the people.”

Specifically, Young cautioned against what he called a “nationwide movement for socialism,” and the disconnect caused by the presence of technology in people’s lives.

Young said that the movement for socialism is not coming from the Democratic Party, but rather from people in leadership positions.

“I don’t condemn them for that, I say that’s their right,” Young said. “But I condemn ourselves for not responding in a positive fashion to stop that, because I want my grandkids to have the opportunity to improve their lot without government interference.”

Young also lamented the lack of communication happening between people nationwide, which he said has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You can’t really know a person’s intentions or his thoughts, or his true beliefs or hers unless you physically look at them in the eye,” Young said. “ … This is a sad thing in our nation right now. We don’t communicate, we don’t talk to one another, we don’t think about one another’s beliefs or feelings or don’t accept them or dispute them.”

On the infrastructure bill Congress is currently working on, Young said that he supports expanding broadband access and bridge repair in Alaska but doesn’t think using a corporate tax as a source of funding will be successful.

“That sounds good, it looks good, that’s easy to do, they’re big companies [but] it won’t work,” Young said. “I want everybody to be involved in it, including the corporations, but also individuals, and we dedicate the money to transportation.”

From members of the audience, Young was asked about whether or not he would support funding for dementia research, election integrity and state sovereignty, among other things.

Kenai City Council member Glenese Pettey said she is “greatly concerned” about the integrity of elections and asked what can be done to substantiate the validity of the process.

Young said he believes the U.S. has a “bad” election system, but that fixing problems should be done on the state level instead of on the federal level.

The full luncheon can be viewed on the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center Facebook page.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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