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Reader's view: Oberstar was a wise, caring public servent

I express my condolences to the citizens of Minnesota on the passing of your great congressman, Jim Oberstar.

I always had a soft spot in my heart for Congressman Oberstar, who became close to my family after my father, Nick Begich, was elected Alaska’s lone member of the U.S. House in 1970. My dad was born and raised in Eveleth and landed a seat on the old House Committee on Public Works when he got to Washington.

Jim Oberstar was a key staff member to that committee. From him the Begich family gained an appreciation of the necessity of a healthy, balanced transportation system for our communities and country. Nearly 40 years later, Congressman Oberstar was still preaching that gospel when I was elected to represent Alaska in the U.S. Senate.

One of my first acts as a new senator in 2009 was visiting Congressman Oberstar to seek his advice on how to convert the many progressive transportation and public-safety ideas he advocated into sound public policy.

He was a wise, caring and effective public servant who served the people of his district, his state and his nation with distinction. It was a great honor knowing and serving with Congressman Jim Oberstar.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich

Anchorage, Alaska