Thomas McGhee is making a move for the mayor’s seat.
After serving 19 years as a North Pole City Council member, McGhee is running for mayor, touting his years on the council and long residency in the city as qualifications that make him the right candidate for the job. He’s up against Mayor Mike Welch, who is seeking reelection.
Having lived in North Pole for 26 years, the candidate says he’s witnessed changes in his city and said in an email to the News-Miner he “believes and embodies the principle that ‘community comes first’.” He also holds the values and dreams of the original Davis homestead, the 160-acre homestead of Bon and Bernice Davis that eventually became North Pole, Alaska.
“If protecting the growth of your neighborhood is an absolute, then be heard and represented by someone whose morals align,” McGhee said.
He’s advocating for more community involvement from residents at city council meetings and says he wants to see more people participate in city governance.
“Residents’ voices need to be heard,” he said on his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/mcgheeformayor.
McGhee describes himself as pro-small business, citing his 20 years as owner and operator of Cherokee Rider’s Inc., a driver’s education and motorcycle training center.
The term he’s seeking is a three-year seat.
1. What are your top priorities during your time in office?
• To restore the Comprehensive Strategic Plan the city has invested many hours and thousands of dollars on to meet the needs of the residents and businesses of North Pole.
• To restore the respect and trust within the city of North Pole, with both the department heads and employees as well as its citizens.
• I will be available during business hours to ensure the needs of the city are met.
2. Like Fairbanks, housing in North Pole is an issue in regards to the arrival of airmen and F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base. What is the impact on North Pole and what might the city do to encourage affordable but well-constructed housing in the city limits? Will the new Military Facility Zone Loan program have an impact within the City of North Pole itself?
I support the Military Facility Zone Loan Program. Property owners must be informed and provided a forum to express their insight on how to address this with minimal impact on current subdivisions. The scope of this project is larger than the city and the greatest benefit arises by partnering with the FNSB, not by focusing only on property within city limits and setting the city up as a housing authority.
3. Does North Pole need a solid waste plan? Why or why not?
No. The FNSB and the current solid waste program provides this service though the transfer sites and has served the city of North Pole well. It is funded through our Borough taxes and does not need to change.
4. Should the city contemplate any new approaches to air quality issues in North Pole?
Yes. The borough’s current program, replacing wood stoves alone, is not a solution. Natural gas is now available in the city limits; however, the conversion is costly. The city and borough need to actively partner to implement an incentive program to aide citizens with the cost of this conversion. Natural gas will have a positive and immediate impact on our air quality.
5. What are the most important challenges facing the city of North Pole in the next five years?
• Population growth will impact our road systems requiring evaluation with resident involvement to find solutions addressing traffic congestion within the main thoroughfare of the city.
• Families living outside city limits frequently pay city sales taxes. We can expand city services to get them more immediate responses in an emergency.
• Working with small businesses to give them a voice and a benefit for being the stewards of our sales tax collection.
6. What makes you qualified for this position?
I have lived in the city for 26 years. I have served on the council for 19 years with six administrations, appointed as Mayor Pro Tem for a number of those years. I have participated in 19 budget sessions and am well versed in city code and the city charter. I invest my time to ensure I am prepared for the needs of the city. I believe the residents come first.