Fairbanks: Bryce Ward wins borough mayor - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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Fairbanks: Bryce Ward wins borough mayor

NENANA – VERHAGEN, NORTH POLE – WELCH
The Fairbanks North Star Borough has a new mayor-elect: Bryce Ward, who had 51 percent last night, likely preventing a runoff.
He was the conservative candidate in a four-way race and had the endorsement of current Mayor Karl Kassel, but  surprisingly he was also supported by leftist writer Dermot Cole.
Ward was born and raised in Fairbanks and has been the mayor of North Pole for six years.

Ward won with 7,086 votes, while former assembly member Nadine Winters, who is the current borough chief of staff, came in second with 3,318 votes. Assembly member Christopher Quist took 2,351 votes and Robert Shields had 885.

The Assembly, however, listed left, although there were indications that three-way races could see progressives splitting the liberal votes.
Marna Sanford was leading conservative Sam Tuck with a race that may be too close to call — 49.8 to 49.31 percent.
Liz Lynke won a three-way with 43 percent to Jeff Rentzell’s 36 percent and youthful Blaze Brooks scooping 18 percent.
Progressive Leah Berman Williams won over conservative Hank Bartos and moderate Michael Holland, 49-39-12.
A local pundit offered that the pro-marijuana progressives continue their hold on local politics in the Fairbanks Borough.
The ballot initiatives went as recommended by conservatives, however.
Voters said no to large bonding proposals and setting aside the tax cap so the borough could fund deferred maintenance. They approved the biannual tax cap, and voted to remove the wood stove-air quality regulatory authority from the Borough, and turn it over to the State and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, since the local community has not been able to solve the air quality problem and banning wood burning in the winter time would likely cause an insurrection.

Josh Verhagen

NENANA
With a 47 percent turnout, Joshua Verhagen won 82 percent of the vote for mayor. Verhagen is a Nenana Assembly member and his opponent pulled out of campaigning. Nenana is home to 400 people and is 55 miles south of Fairbanks.
NORTH POLE

Michael Welch was the preferred conservative candidate for North Pole Mayor. It looks like he may have won, but only held a 15-vote lead late Tuesday night. Only 275 people voted in North Pole, plus absentee ballots that have yet to come in.

Proposition C passed. It embeds the ban on the marijuana industry in the city’s charter, which makes it more permanent.

(This story is based on results from Election night and some results could change with absentee votes.)

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • You misspelled a bunch of names. The new mayor of North Pole is Mike WELCH. Bryce Ward had support from both the business community and labor unions, though I doubt that it will steer him too far astray. I was at the burro assembly meeting Thursday night and someone else was in the chief of staff’s chair besides Nadine Winters.

    One outlying precinct, I believe Salcha, gave more votes to Rob Shields than to either Quist or Winters. This may help to illustrate the problem in the FNSB, in that the assembly is elected at-large, making the FNSB alone among the more populous boroughs in the state in doing so. Vast lifestyle and political differences exist from one end of the borough to the other. Electing the assembly at-large has allowed the corner of the borough surrounding the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus to hijack the entire borough’s political landscape. There have been multiple occasions where five or six of the nine assembly members have lived in this small portion of the borough, an area less populous than either the city of Fairbanks or the city of North Pole combined with the surrounding Badger Road vicinity. For several decades, the assembly has only given voters one question during the required decennial vote on the matter of composition of the assembly: a yes or no vote on keeping things the way they are. There has been little or no discussion on considering the other apportionment schemes provided for in AS 29. The Interior Taxpayer’s Association, which views itself as a conservative watchdog group, has aggressively avoided the question in past candidate forums, because former leader Donna Gilbert “heard somewhere that we can’t change it” and her acolytes have simply accepted that as fact.

  • Video of Bryce Ward being sworn in as mayor:

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