U.S. Rep. Bill Young (R FL-13)
St. Petersburg, Florida - The state's longest-serving member of Congress is gravely ill.
The office of Republican C.W. Bill Young says the lawmaker's condition worsened tonight, and his doctors say his prognosis is guarded.
STORY: Congressman Young 'gravely ill' in the hospital
"It puts a lump in my throat. I mean he's a mentor to me," said Mayor George Cretekos.
The Clearwater mayor started working with Young back in 1971- the representative's very first day in Congress.
"That was his first time. His first day was my first day," said Cretekos. "He reminded me a long time ago that he may have all the attention in Washington, but it's the people back home that he represents, the people back home that he works for."
He hopes the health of the 82-year-old House member, who announced plans to retire after 43 years in Congress just last week, will improve.
Young has been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., due to back problems stemming from a 1970 small-plane crash.
In recent years, Young has become increasingly frail and has relied on a wheelchair.
The congressman is a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee and is influential on military spending and other defense issues.
"The time he spends over at the veterans hospital here in St. Pete is just unmatched by any congressman I know," said Austin Cline who lives a few doors down from Young's Indian Shores home.
His office issued a statement Thursday about his condition that reads in part: "US Representative C. W. Bill Young's condition turned for the worse over night and he is gravely ill. His doctors say his prognosis is guarded."