Biography provided by participantSenator Mark Begich is in his third year representing Alaska in the U.S. Senate, where his primary focus is building a strong Alaska economy. Already in his short time in the Senate, Senator Begich has risen to key positions for Alaska. He was recently named chairman of the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, which has broad jurisdiction over important Alaska issues. He works on behalf of Alaska's servicemen and women on the Armed Services Committee and also is a member of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Budget committees. As chairman of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, Senator Begich holds the Number Five position in the leadership for the Senate majority, which he uses to advocate on Alaska issues. Senator Begich was elected to the Senate in 2008 after serving as mayor of Anchorage for nearly six years. Born and raised in Anchorage, Senator Begich's other priorities include reducing the national deficit, tax reform, and building a national energy policy that emphasizes Alaska's oil and gas resources, an Alaska natural gas pipeline and the state's many renewable resources. A lifetime member of the NRA, Senator Begich is a strong advocate for the 2nd Amendment and the rights of Alaskans and all Americans to keep and bear arms. A businessman since age 14, Senator Begich is bringing his business acumen to the work in the Senate. His extensive experience in public office, along with service to dozens of non-profits and community groups, all add to his know-how and ability to get things done. In 1988, at age 26, Mark was the youngest person ever elected to the Anchorage Assembly where he served for nearly 10 years. During that time, his colleagues three times elected him chairman, Anchorage's second highest political office, and he also served as chair of the budget committee. During his time as mayor, Anchorage went through the biggest building boom in a generation, attracting millions of dollars worth of public and private investment. Through Begich's leadership, Anchorage voters supported the building of the new Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center, a $100 million expansion of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, and a multitude of other projects that strengthened the city's economy. In October 2008, both the Wall Street Journal and Business Week recognized Anchorage as a city well positioned to weather the international economic crisis and the city's bond ratings were upgraded due to improved fiscal stability. Mark's parents, Pegge and the late Nick Begich, came to the territory of Alaska in 1957 as teachers. Following a career as a teacher and superintendent of military schools on Ft. Richardson, Nick was elected Alaska's third U.S. Congressman. While running for reelection, in 1972, Begich's airplane disappeared in the Gulf of Alaska when Mark was 10 years old. From his parents, Mark learned the values of hard work, strength of family, and commitment to community which are the values he has applied to a successful business career and long record of public service. Senator Begich is married to Deborah Bonito, a successful businesswoman. They have a young son, Jacob. The Begich family enjoys spending time together reading, traveling, and enjoying the many great things Alaska has to offer.