ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS / FAIRBANKS DAILY NEWS-MINER – DEC 24, 2018
by SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI
Today is a special day in Alaska’s history. Fifty years ago, on Christmas Eve in 1968, Gov. Wally Hickel appointed a young veteran and attorney named Ted Stevens to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. That proved to be an exceptional choice, and a great man would go on to become one of the longest-serving Republican senators of all time, the “Alaskan of the Century,” and a beloved icon all across our state.
To be sure, even before Ted came to the Senate, he had already played a key role in shaping Alaska’s future. Working at the Department of the Interior under then-Secretary Fred Seaton, Ted helped convince Congress to admit Alaska to the union. After returning to his adopted home, he served in our state Legislature, where he was chosen to be House majority leader.
Alaska was different back then. The early years of statehood weren’t easy for us. A federal freeze had led to a halt on permits for the use of federal land. Foreign fishing fleets were decimating fish stocks just miles from our shores. Mail service was sporadic and undependable. Most rural Alaskans lived in poverty, with access to few medical doctors and only “honey buckets” for sanitation.
Decades later, Alaska has come a long way. And while that is due to the tireless work of thousands of individuals, perhaps no one did more to improve our state and shape its future than the man whose memory we celebrate today.
During his time in the Senate, Ted lived by a simple motto: “To hell with politics, do what’s right for Alaska.” And no matter what issue came before the chamber, he always did exactly that.
In 1971, he helped shape the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which settled most outstanding land claims for Alaska Natives and provided new opportunities for economic development.
A few years later, he ensured Senate passage of a bill authorizing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, unlocking our vast reserves on the North Slope, establishing a foundation for our state economy, and enabling the creation of the Permanent Fund that provides annual dividends to our residents.
Another major achievement was a broad fisheries law that Ted worked on with a colleague from Washington, and which today bears their names as the Magnuson-Stevens Act, protecting and sustaining our marine resources within the 200-mile limit.
As an appropriator, Ted worked with the Alaska delegation to steer much needed resources to our still-young state, helping to build critical infrastructure, provide essential air service to remote communities, and generally improve our quality of life.
Through their work, along with the work of many others, most Alaskans now enjoy a modern communications system. More than 170 rural communities have health aides. Modern sewer and water systems serve more and more Alaskans every day. A network of transportation systems ties Alaskans together, and bypass mail helps keep postage rates down.
Ted also made his mark at the national level. He was a staunch proponent of our armed forces and national defense. He advanced telecommunications policy. And his legacy also includes a number of measures that he is not always associated with, including Title IX for women’s equality in sports, the Amateur Sports Act, and the reauthorization of a program that provides funding for physical education.
I was honored to intern for Ted and to later serve alongside him in the Senate. He was both a mentor and a dear friend. He was also a remarkable leader whose dedication and commitment to our state was nothing less than extraordinary. He loved Alaska. He never failed to go to the mat for us, often while wearing his iconic Hulk tie. And it is clear that without him, Alaska would be a much different place.
It is often said that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. As we mark the 50th anniversary of his appointment to the Senate, we recognize that we stand much higher today because of Sen. Ted Stevens and his tremendous work for Alaska.
Anchorage Daily News
Fifty years ago, Ted Stevens was first sworn in as the third U. S. Senator from Alaska. He had been appointed by then Governor Walter J. Hickel to succeed one of the state’s first Senators, E.L. (Bob) Bartlett, who had passed away earlier that month on December 11, 1968.
Alaska was a much different place at that time. It had been a state for less than ten years. There was no Alyeska Pipeline and no production of oil from the North Slope. There was no Permanent Fund (and no dividends). Because of disputes over ownership and the use of federal land, the federal government had imposed a land freeze and refused to issue land use permits. Foreign fishing fleets were ravaging the fish stocks just three miles from Alaska’s shore. If Alaskans wanted to make phone calls to the Lower 48, they had to use the military’s telephone system. There was no live television-shows – they were all video-taped in Seattle and flown in to be broadcast two weeks later, even Christmas specials were broadcast in January. The Alaska Railroad was owned by the federal government. If you became sick in rural Alaska there were no village health aides and injured people had to wait to for treatment until they could be flown to a large city. Rather than going to school at home, high schoolers from rural Alaska had to go to school in Sitka or “Indian” schools as far away as Pennsylvania. Most rural Alaskans lived in abject poverty and had no sanitation systems except ‘honey buckets.’ Mail service in the state was sporadic and undependable at best.
Fast forward fifty years to today, and the disputes over ownership of federal lands are mostly resolved and Alaska Native corporations have become cornerstones of Alaska’s economy. The Alaska Pipeline has been in operation for over 40 years, and production of the vast resources on the North Slope has funded the $63.9 billion Alaska Permanent Fund and its annual dividends. Alaskans now enjoy a modern communications system. Rural health aides can provide local treatment for many conditions and a network of hospitals exist in Nome, Bethel, Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow), and Dillingham; and up-to-date modern hospitals serve all Alaskans. The 200-mile exclusive economic zone limit and numerous other measures help protect Alaska’s fisheries. Modern sewer and water systems serve most people within the state. A network of modern, well-lit airports and up-to-date piers and docks tie Alaskans together. And bypass mail helps keep postage rates down.
These changes are the results of thousands of Alaskans from all over the state who worked to build the state we know and enjoy today. But one man, Ted Stevens, was a remarkable leader who addressed all these issues and many more. He worked for 40 years in the Senate to make Alaska a better place and without his leadership, Alaska would be a much different, and a much poorer place. Hs dedication and commitment to this state were remarkable. You may not have agreed with all he did (and when he disagreed with you he let you know), but no one can disagree that his contribution to this state made a huge difference for everyone who lives in Alaska today. It is often said that we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us, and Alaskans today stand much higher because of Ted Stevens and his work for Alaska.
This year as we celebrate the holidays please remember Ted’s legacy of service to Alaskans. The Ted Stevens Foundation is working every day to keep that legacy alive and working for Alaska. You can learn more about the Foundation and its work by visiting our web site at tedstevensfoundation.org. Help us preserve both Ted’s and Alaska’s history by contributing to the Foundation today.
Also, remember to visit our new exhibit commemorating this anniversary at the Dimond Center this holiday season!
JUNEAU — Officials from the University of Alaska and the Alaska State Legislature recognized the eight-member class of the Ted Stevens Legislative Internship program Tuesday in the State Capitol.
University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor Rick Caulfield noted the successes of the program in opening remarks.
“It’s an important opportunity for our students to have a high-impact learning opportunity,” Caulfield said. “I myself was an intern, actually in D.C. not here in the Capitol, but I can tell you from first hand experience how meaningful that was for me.”
The students were also recognized by House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham.
“It’s a wonderful learning environment down here,” Edgmon said, noting many students had only been in Juneau for the one session. “Maybe some of you will return, maybe some will run for office. We’ll do our best to leave the ship going in the right direction for you.”
Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki was also present at the event and said that he has had interns in his office for years, many of have gone on to work as lawyers, administrators and gone into politics.
The Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program is the new name for the longstanding University of Alaska legislative internship program that has been allowing college students the ability to intern in the Alaska State Capitol as well as the congressional offices of Alaska’s senators and representative for over 30 years and has included more than 250 students in this time.
Caulfield said that with the help of the Ted Stevens Foundation, there is hope of growing the program to see more students involved and expanding opportunities.
During their time in Juneau, students work full time in the Capitol in the offices of state senators or representatives while also participating in an academic program combining class work with research, earning a total of 12 college credits by the end of the program.
Contact staff writer Erin Granger at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPoliticsRead more
Contact: Keni Campbell, UAS Public Information Office (907) 796-6509, firstname.lastname@example.org
TED STEVENS FOUNDATION PLEDGES $157,000 TO UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA LEGISLATIVE INTERNSHIP; PROGRAM TO BE RENAMED IN HONOR OF SENATOR TED STEVENS
Juneau – The University of Alaska’s legislative internship program has received a substantial investment from The Ted Stevens Foundation, which has pledged $157,500 over five years to expand the initiative. The program, which will be renamed the Senator Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program, is nearly 30 years old and has hosted 300 interns during legislative sessions since inception.
Managed by the University of Alaska Southeast, this non-partisan program affords university students an opportunity to work in state legislative offices during the annual legislative session in Juneau while earning college credits in an Alaska-focused public policy seminar.
The Ted Stevens Foundation has pledged $31,500 annually during each of the next five years to support the program. In addition, the Foundation has agreed to match up to an additional $10,500 per year in private contributions to the program from other donors.
“This program honors Senator Ted Stevens’ legacy of bipartisanship, innovation and collaboration,” said UA president Jim Johnsen. “The Foundation’s support allows our students the real world experience of public service, and we are thankful to the Ted Stevens Foundation for its generosity and partnership with the university.”
Karina Waller, Executive Director of the Ted Stevens Foundation, said “the Foundation’s support of the Senator Ted Stevens Internship Program fosters the Senator’s commitment to education and public service for Alaska’s next generation of leaders.”
During his 40 years in the U.S. Senate, Senator Stevens hosted his own legendary congressional internship program giving hundreds of students from across Alaska an opportunity to engage in the political process in Washington D.C. In fact, UAS Professor Glenn Wright, the program’s faculty coordinator, said the university internship program has become an excellent source of future full-time legislative staffers. He estimated that 30 percent of the current staff working in Alaska’s State Capitol are former university interns.
“We’re very grateful to the Ted Stevens Foundation for this investment in Alaska’s future leaders,” said UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield. “This support allows us to take the program to a higher level and sustain the Senator’s legacy of public service and his dedication to the professional development of young Alaskans.”
For program information about the Senator Ted Stevens Legislative Internship, go to http://www.uas.alaska.edu/internprogram/. For those wanting to join the Ted Stevens Foundation in supporting the program financially, contact the UAS Development Office at (907) 796-6320 or go to www.uas.alaska.edu/development