WATCH: Debate for the State - U.S. House candidates
Alaska’s two candidates for the U.S. House faced off in a debate Friday night that was hosted by Channel 2 News and Alaska Public Media, in the “Debate for the State.” Republican Rep. Don Young is being challenged by Independent Alyse Galvin, who ran in the Democratic primary.
In their opening statements, Young said his priorities would be to defend the second amendment, ensure access to federal lands, and for Alaskans to be able to develop the state’s land and cooperate with the federal government.
Galvin said she’d work to tackle high health care costs in Alaska, the state’s unemployment, and its “unconscionable” rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Throughout the debate, Young focused on his experience in the House and his track record representing Alaskans. Galvin advocated for change and vowed to give Alaskans “new, enthusiastic leadership.”
Here are some of the hot topics. Watch the full debate for the candidates’ answers to more questions from moderators, follow-up questions from Channel 2 and Alaska Public Media journalists, Alaskans, and each other.
I think that all of the hate and the emboldening of that hate and those actions is horrible. And frankly that’s part of why I’m running. As an Independent I am one who will bring to the table that willingness to get to solutions together. I think it’s time to have somebody representing Alaska who is going to model that sort of civility that we all are comfortable with and that we all know also leads to solutions.
Well, this news has been, I think, bad for the United States internationally and for everybody in the United States. The hostility and people are pointing fingers at one another. You see pictures of Maxine Waters, if you watch it on television stations, see pictures of other people – a lot of blame is going on, a lot of pointing of fingers. I’m one and have been rated as one of the most bipartisan across-the-aisle individuals in the 5 percent that gets things done. I have civility to my members, I work hard for Alaska, I will continue to do that. This is not going to be solved by one person. It’s going to be solved by a collective effort.
It might help if we start reading the Bible too. I say this with some reservation. Some people say, ‘You’re bringing religion in.’ Let’s understand how we must work together as individuals, as God’s creations. I’m excited about working for this next year. I won’t be able to solve all the problems, as some people say they’re going to, because this is a national issue. This evening, the State of Alaska, moreso on the national level, because I very frankly think this comes from a lot of the national media.
This is an issue President Trump has been charged with. He’s right, this is an invasion. How they’re going to stop it, I’m not sure. He is not sure himself. We are putting troops on the border, but to have 10,000 people coming to this nation illegally, 20,000 next time, so it’s an issue for Congress itself to be addressing.
We have not addressed the immigration laws. We have not built the wall. Some people would have built the wall. Right now, that wouldn’t stop the migration of the caravan. We have to recognize this is a challenge to the people, and we better accept that challenge and say you can’t be in the United States unless you’re legal. And that’s very, very crucial to the United States to remain as America. This is about America.
So I’m working with the president, I’m working with the Congress to come up with a solution. I don’t have all the solutions to it. I do know, I don’t know what’s going to happen when those people arrive at the border, how they’re going to handle it. That’s going to be the big, big enchilada when that happens.
The issue of immigration has been on the table for decades. It never got solved, unfortunately. We are a nation of immigrants, I’m proud of that. We have some wonderful modeling of that in Alaska where we have the most diverse cities, three top most diverse high schools in the nation. And we have a legal process in place right now that we need to reinforce and keep in place for anybody who is truly seeking asylum.
We’ll need to make sure that the resources are there so that that legal process can be accessed. It’s very important for anyone who is a law-abiding person to find their way from the darkness into being a tax-paying individual, particularly if they have been here over 20 years. I will in Congress work toward a real comprehensive immigration policy.
Hydropower is the key to Alaska. It is an energy source that’s clean, it should be developed. The state has been neglectful. This goes around the state. That’s a big one. Windmills, which I put in Kotzebue were big.
We’re going to work on all forms of energy because an abundance of energy develops an economy and jobs for people. I will say respectfully solar does not attract me too much until we develop a battery that can do the job or batteries that can do the job and that may happen in the future. Right now we’re still dependent on fossil fuels.
But in Alaska, it could be all hydro if we were ever to develop it. And that's what I've done in the appropriation process for Alaska. The State of Alaska put some money in and took it out again for the study and the studies are taking too long. We’ll get that done. That will give the state the power necessary to what I call refine our own natural resources to an added value.
While we have to maintain our good jobs right now, there is no question that we need to look at renewable energy as a good opportunity for Alaska to expand and diversify our economy. And we do have some good things going in Hydropower. In Kodiak, for example, they’re 60/40 hydro/wind. They did it. 60/40 with the exception of half a percent or so in diesel just in case something shuts down.
But we have some incredible opportunities. I’m going to say, not only in hydro, but in wind, in solar, in some cases where it makes sense, and also in geothermal. We’re doing it. It’s working. We have models of homes that we know will work and prototypes. We just need a leader willing to make sure that the nation is investing in this because climate change is a national security concern. It’s the number 1 right now.
We’re changing in climate. In 11 times we have had ice ages. We’re warming up and I do not believe man is the cause. It’s being used as an instrument to frighten people. If you don’t believe me, check out where the oil is and where the coal is in Alaska. That was not done through ice. What we have to do is learn how to adapt, figure out how it’s going to work. To say this is the number one issue is not really listening to all the climatologists, which I happen to be acquainted with some of the best in the world. In fact the president of one does not agree with what some of the scientists are saying. Yes, the climate is changing. Man is not the fault.
Unlike my opponent, I agree with the 99.5% of scientists who say that climate change is absolutely related to human activity. I think it’s critical that Alaska, where we are experiencing climate change first and foremost, needs to have a representative who is going to ensure that we are adapting and mitigating these climate change issues that are certainly affecting Alaskans and our way of life.
We need to lower the costs of pharmaceutical drugs. That can get done today. There’s no reason that we aren’t allowing our pharmacies to purchase pharmaceuticals in Canada or where it’s safe in European countries. That’s a law that should have been passed and you have had many years to take care of that. Secondly, there are ways to allow us to practice that fair market practice which most of us do when we have a big buy. We have a huge buy in Medicare. We need to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. Don Young voted against that. Number 3, like he alluded to, working with other states across state lines so that we can grow our pool. We must protect those with pre-existing conditions, no questions asked. Don Young voted against that 56 times. We have some work to do and I can’t wait to be that fresh voice for Alaska ensuring that someone is looking out for just Alaskans, not special interests.
Let’s make it perfectly clear that my opponent keeps wanting transparency, solving healthcare problems, but the bill I voted against was Nancy Pelosi’s bill. She brought it out nine days after she was sworn in, there'd been no hearings, there was no real input in it like ensuring expensive costs are taken care of in cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. None of that in the bill. I told you it was a disaster, and I voted against it because I have always voted against and I will continue to do that against ObamaCare. It's what's hurt healthcare. Insurance is not health care. Health care, by the way, is the biggest problem we have in the state of Alaska because of cost, but we have to go back. We have a federally implemented, go back and rewrite the whole bill. And I can’t, as I said, do everything. That’s one thing I proposed. I have a list of all the health care legislation I voted on. It frustrates me sometimes when you think about this issue of pharmaceutical costs when a specialty pill was $100 and went to $200, we’ll work on that.
Law enforcement is a big issue from what I have heard traveling throughout the state over the last 10 months. Not only in urban but particularly rural Alaska, where we have entire communities still in 2018 without a single law enforcement officer of any sort – VPSO or state Trooper coverage. And the chiefs are so upset by this. I think it’s really important that the federal government considers this an emergency when we have entire communities without any public safety officer. Yet we know that we have the highest number of women suffering from domestic violence and sexual assault. We can and we must do better.
This is an issue that’s a social issue and all the villages. You can’t put enough troops in the villages. It would be darned near impossible. How do we solve it? I want to give them the authority to arrest, in the village, any of the tribal members and to judge them and to prosecute them in the sense that they have a better feeling for it. Some people say you can’t do that under the state constitution. That may be true, but we have to do something. I was a mayor of Fort Yukon and we had a good rule: You did something wrong, you served time. Not in jail, but helping people you harmed. That worked. Now you can’t do it. This is all state issues, by the way, because the federal government doesn’t have a role in this. It’s the state. We ought to be able to solve it together within the state and with our native corporations, our villages. There’s work being done and I”ll continue to do that but the federal government cannot solve this problem itself.