On a vote of 10-2, the Anchorage Assembly ended its handwringing and agreed with a citizens’ naming panel to designate the Port of Alaska after the late Congressman Don Young, who served in the U.S. House on behalf of Alaska for 49 years before passing on March 18, 2022.
The two voting against the naming of the port were Assemblywomen Karen Bronga and Meg Zaletel. The vote came after several months of grudging delays by the Assembly.
Appearing before the 12 Assembly members during the vote was Anne Young, Congressman Young’s widow, who stood at a podium that the Assembly had quickly named for a citizen activist, Eugene Carl Haberman, with no controversy, after Haberman died on Oct. 21, 2021.
It took the Assembly less than a month to name the podium, but naming a port was another matter. That deliberation took on a partisan quality, with member Karen Bronga delivering decidedly hostile remarks about the congressman.
“Don Young had his day for Alaska. But he aged into someone who was insensitive, a bully and who disrespected women. Rewarding a public figure for this bad behavior because he brought the state money is not in the best interest of our city. The naming of a volcano after him is, in my opinion, way more fitting,” said Bronga during one meeting on the topic last year.
Even during Tuesday night’s deliberations, the matter got caught up in confusion and parliamentary muddling. At one point, an effort was made to try to delay the vote yet again until March, but that was vetoed by Mayor Dave Bronson.
Bronson noted that Young had asked him personally if he would name the port after him. The citizen naming panel had been convened and in June of 2023 had recommended naming the port the Don Young Port of Anchorage.
But the Assembly in September not only postponed its vote, it ordered the citizens’ panel to hold another public hearing and to hold another vote. The Assembly said there had not been enough public notice or input. In December, the group came back with the same name, agreed on unanimously.