If you want to make your community sparkle and have aspirations for local office, you have until 5 p.m. July 30 to file for candidacy. The city of Fairbanks, the city of North Pole and the Fairbanks North Star Borough will hold municipal elections Oct. 2.
What do you think you could contribute to your community? How could you help make it a better place?
It is natural for a person to want to serve their community. Fairbanks City Councilman Jerry Cleworth has held public office in Fairbanks, off and on, since the 1980s. He even served as mayor. Where local politics are concerned, he has more time in office than any other current public official. He said he keeps returning to politics, after being termed-out, because he enjoys the “handling of day-to-day problems and trying to come up with reasonable solutions.”
Why would you want to hold public office?
Being a politician is a challenge, though. For Councilman Cleworth the greatest challenge is the research. He said a public official needs a lot of information to make an informed decision, and during his first couple years in office he often felt like he was “in deep water” as he tried to study the issues. He said this can be time consuming and that any would-be politician should take that into consideration.
Are you up for the challenge?
Working in politics can be rewarding. For Cleworth, it was his time as Fairbanks mayor. He said every item on his administration’s deferred maintenance wishlist was completed, including a new police station.
How would you look back on your own time in office?
As of 5 p.m. Friday, a handful of people have filed for local office. With nine days left to file for candidacy, positions are open and races are uncontested, though. All too often people are elected without a challenger. Having a challenger is good for democracy. A contested race forces candidates to show the public why they deserve to be in office. A person running unopposed can put the campaign in cruise control and coast into office. Consider the following:
• Fairbanks City Councilwoman June Rogers is running unopposed, and so is newcomer Shoshana Kun.
• The Borough Assembly has three open seats. Jeffrey Rentzel, Leah Burman Williams and Sam Tuck are running unopposed.
• There are two open seats on the borough school board with no contenders.
• There are two seats on the Interior Gas Utility Board of Directors that nobody has filed for.
• In North Pole, Thomas McGee is running for mayor unopposed.
To learn more about running for local office, visit the Fairbanks, North Pole or borough clerks’ offices.