Young Faces Two Primary Election Challengers

In next Tuesday’s primary race Congressman Don Young will be defending his 40 year tenure as Alaska’s lone U.S. House member against two Republican challengers and five Democrats also vying for the seat.

John Cox and Terre Gales are his Republican challengers. John Cox says he came to Alaska in the early 70s and spent nearly 30 years in the Navy. He first challenged Young in 2010 and is back again saying Alaska and the nation needs new direction.

Terre Gales is also a veteran. He served in Iraq. He also says the state and country need a new path forward. Both men say spending and the deficit must be reined in, but when asked if the automatic cuts to the pentagon slated for January should be allowed to go forward, John Cox says no.

Terre Gales says the road to fiscal and economic strength is through strong leadership.

Don Young, his voice hoarse from campaigning, says his leadership works because he knows what Alaskans want.

The three Republicans agree on many issues. On health care, all three say the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. On the issue of climate change, none of them adhere to beliefs that changes are anything other than natural cycles.

When it came to Social Security and whether or not the eligibility age should be raised, John Cox said, it doesn’t matter.

Terre Gales disagreed, saying it matters to the people depending on it. Gales likes the idea of gradually raising the eligibility age in small increments.

Don Young agrees the age will have to be raised, saying part of the problem stems from the inception of the Social Security program when the average life span of Americans was shorter.

None of the candidates were in support of federal dollars being spent on private charter schools, all would seek to overturn Roe versus Wade, the law legalizing abortion and all would vote to increase military spending. But when asked whether or not the U.S. would still be in Afghanistan in 6 decades similar to the 60 years of U.S. military presence in Korea, they answered Anchorage journalist Michael Carey this way.

Next Tuesday is the primary. Tomorrow we’ll hear from the Democratic challengers for U.S. House. You can hear much more from all of the candidates tomorrow evening on Debate for the State offered statewide. Check your local public broadcasting station for the schedule.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori