Representative Don Young, legislator Sharon Cissna Face Off at Fairbanks Candidate Forum
U.S. Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, makes his point during a candidate forum with Alaska Rep. Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, during the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Young has served as Alaska's lone congressman since 1973. Sam Harrel / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
FAIRBANKS — Representative Don Young is facing a challenge from state legislator Sharon Cissna for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat on November 6, but the longtime congressman emphasized on Tuesday that he’s in no mood to step down.
During a candidate forum hosted by the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, Young said he’ll run again for the seat — in 2014.
“You young guys have to wait in line,” he said with a smile.
Young, a Republican who has served nearly 40 years in the House, and Cissna, an Anchorage Democrat, talked about development, health care, the national debt and other topics during an hour-long forum at the Carlson Center.
Young said he’d use his experience in the House to make sure Alaska is well represented.
Young touted his ability to deliver funding for the Alaska Railroad and ferry system during a session when not much got done in Congress.
“Everyone knows Don Young — they might not like me, they may love me, but they respect me because I’m the congressman for all Alaska,” he said.
Cissna said she’d combine a focus on health issues with a “workaholic” approach to the job. She credited her decision to run to an ongoing battle with the Transportation Security Agency.
Cissna, who is a breast cancer survivor, said her surgical scars have led to invasive airport security scans — and her decision to avoid U.S. commercial flights in the future. TSA is one example of a government that has exceeded its constitutional reach, she said.
“How we treat our citizens is really of paramount importance,” she said.
The candidates didn’t clash during their amiable forum, but did present varying opinions on several topics.
When asked about the Affordable Care Act, often dubbed Obamacare, Young called the act “probably the worst piece of legislation I’ve ever encountered.” He said it’s still unclear what the 2,400-page law will do and said he’ll support efforts to defund it.
Cissna, who cited health care as one of her key issues, said Congress should work to improve the existing bill, since passing health care legislation can take years to accomplish. She didn’t outline any specific criticisms of the bill, but said it should be worked on rather than repealed.
“It’s got to be fixed,” she said.
Young said he’ll work to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency whose mission has “grown totally out of whack.” EPAs regulation of watersheds near the proposed Pebble Mine is a threat to state sovereignty, he said.
Cissna said the state is at least partly to blame, since it hasn’t created a long-term energy plan to convey to federal regulators and Congress.