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Profile of Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska


Profile of Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska

Photo Courtesy of the Mark Begich for U.S. Senate Campaign

Mark Begich, Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska:

Mark Begich was elected to the U.S. in November 2008, beating 40-year Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Stevens who was convicted of 7 felony violations of ethics laws.

Begich has been Mayor of Anchorage since 2003, where he has been a smart fiscal manager. He previously served 10 years on the Anchorage Assembly, including 3 years as Assembly Chair.

A talented politician and leader, Begich was named in 1997 and 2004 as Alaska's top official by municipal officials.

Begich's stances reveal robust respect for individuals' rights, including gun rights and privacy, and for youth programs and support.

Mark Begich on the Issues:

Mark Begich is a lifetime member of the NRA, and strongly supports Second Amendment protection of individuals' gun rights. His '08 Senate campaign was endorsed by the Anchorage police and fire unions.

Begich believes in "standing up against government interference, including warrantless wiretapping, the assault on habeas corpus, the pursuit of Real ID cards, and retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that illegally helped the federal government spy on Americans."

Begich supports "high-quality, affordable health care access for all Alaskans that they can count on for a lifetime."

Senate Committees in 112th Congress, 2011-2012:

  • Budget Committee
  • Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee
  • Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee
  • Veterans' Affairs Committee
  • Armed Forces Committee

Mark Begich as Mayor of Anchorage:

Begich was elected Anchorage mayor in 2003, after unsuccessful runs in 1994 and 2000. Anchorage boasts 300,000 residents, 20% who are Alaskan Native, Native American or Asian ethnicities. Begich has worked closely to meet these groups' needs, and named the new $100-million convention center after indigenous Alaskans.

Begich is an able, tough fiscal manager who raised the ratings of Anchorage's bonds after inheriting a $33 million budget gap. Begich has been a strong supporter of youth programs, including the Making a Difference Program for first-time juvenile offenders.

Mark Begich on Energy Conservation, Global Warming:

Mark Begich boasts of being "the first Alaska mayor to join the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection initiative."

Begich is well-known for promoting the reduction of energy consumption as a way to combat global warming, including "replacing street lights with LED lights, shutting down city computers when not in use and harnessing methane gas from the city landfill."

Mark Begich Before Election as Mayor of Anchorage:

From 1988 (at age 26) to 1998, Begich was an elected Assemblyman on the 6-member Anchorage Assembly, including 3 years as Assembly Chair and 2 years as vice-chair.

Begich, considered a political prodigy, was appointed to the Anchorage Youth Commission at age 17. At age 19, he was appointed to the City health department.

Wrote the local newspaper in 2003, "Foes and friends alike give him high marks for political skills -- his ability to decipher budgets, line up votes and marshal support for projects he supports, and resist those he opposes."

Personal Data:

  • Birth - March 31, 1962 in Anchorage, Alaska, the fourth of six children born to Nick and Pegge Begich.

  • Education - For high school, Begich attended Steller Secondary School in Alaska. Has taken continuing education classes at University of Alaska in Anchorage.

  • Family - Married in 1990 to Deborah Bonito, former Chair of the Alaska Democratic party. One son, Jacob, born in 2002.
Mark Begich and Deborah Bonito are owners of the Carson Hot Springs Resort in Carson City, Nevada.

Begich is also a successful local entrepreneur with thriving vending machine and property rental businesses.

Deborah Bonito, Businesswoman and Wife of Mark Begich:

Deborah Bonito's family moved to Anchorage in 1976 when her father was assigned to U.S. Army Fort Richardson. She earned a B.A. in Literature and Political Science in 1985 from Claremont-McKenna Colleges in southern California. After returning to Alaska, she worked as a legislative aide for five years while starting various small businesses. In 2008, she is:
  • president of The Sourdough Mercantile,
  • owns Mosquito Books at the main Anchorage airport, and
  • co-owns, with her brother and sister, Kobuk Coffee & Tea Co.
All three retail stores feature the products of native Alaskan craftspeople.

The Late Rep. Nick Begich, Father of Mark Begich:

Mark Begich was 10 years old when the twin-engine Cessna carrying his father, Rep. Nick Begich, and Rep. Hale Boggs disappeared on an October 1972 flight from Anchorage to Juneau.

Begich, who served one term in the House, was previously an eight year member of the Alaska Senate, and taught political science at University of Alaska. Nick Begich spent most of his career as a teacher and as Superintendent of Schools at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Nick and Pegge Begich orginally settled in Alaska in 1957.

Memorable Quotes:

On Ethics, Earmarks and Sen. Ted Stevens

"Recent ethics reform legislation doesn't do anything to shed light on what other special interest projects the senator may be seeking. The earmark requests made public are available only by going in person to the Appropriations Committees' offices in Washington, DC.

"Every earmark requested by a senator should be posted online so Alaskans know what & who their elected officials are fighting for. Senators should disclose on whose behalf the earmark was requested & how it will benefit their constituents...

"Senators and senior senatorial staff should disclose all income and assets, down to the dollar for themselves, their spouses and dependent children."

---- May 21, 2008

On Giving Back to Community

"My first business license was at 14. I opened up the first teenage nightclub in Anchorage at 16. I owned real estate. I've been in the vending business, restaurant business, printing business. I've been in a lot of different businesses.

"But each time I've done that, one of the things, as time progressed, I learned from other people more about my dad's history and things because at 10 I didn't know a lot about what he had done.

"But also through my mom's (as I call) survival of six kids and raising, what I did know that as a member of a community you need to give back. And it could be through your church, it could be through a non-profit, it could be through political life."

--- MyDD.com interview, July 24, 2008

On Education and the No Child Left Behind Act

"Mark believes that the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind law has been a disaster in Alaska and as Senator will work to return to an education policy that respects community values.

"He will fight to return control to Alaska’s parents and educators and for the millions of dollars in federal support promised, but not delivered, to Alaska schools."

--- Begich for U.S. Senate website

On Withdrawal from Iraq

"Mark believes that it is time for America to safely and responsibly redeploy our troops out of Iraq. Our troops have served admirably, but political leadership has failed them with no plan, inadequate equipment and diplomatic neglect...

"We must end our military's participation in Iraq's civil war so we can shift our attention back where it belongs: fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere."

--- Begich for U.S. Senate website

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