Frank Turney, Fairbanks candidate, Bill of Rights advocate, passes


A well-known figure in the political scene of Fairbanks has passed. Frank Turney died unexpectedly, his family announced on Monday.

He had run for mayor three times, most recently during the October, 2019 election, always calling himself a “conscience awareness candidate” who wanted issues of public importance brought to light. He was not as concerned about winning, and in the Oct. 1 election, won 84 votes, or 2 percent of ballots cast. Turney had also run for city council several times, also never winning. He never raised enough money in any of his races to qualify for a report to Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Politically, Turney couldn’t be put into a box, but he was a super voter who never missed an election, and he had Libertarian leanings. He was passionate about jury rights issues and jury nullification. He defended religious liberties of those bakers who don’t want to bake cakes for gay weddings. He advocated for less lethal force by police, more public restrooms for downtown Fairbanks, and

Turney was also an advocate for legal cannabis, and also was outspoken in support of the exoneration of Schaeffer Cox, a Fairbanks man who was convicted in 2012 on nine felony counts related to conspiracy to murder federal officials. Cox is serving his sentence in Terre Haute, Indiana.

He was charged with jury tampering in 1994, after continuously making a scene at the Fairbanks Courthouse and being cautioned in a letter by the court administrator to not harass people coming and going from the courthouse. His case went to the Alaska Supreme Court, which upheld a conviction for disorderly conduct, but reversed his conviction for second-degree trespass.

[Read: Turney v. State]

Turney came to Fairbanks from Cherryville, Oregon in 1982 and became a snow shoveler during that winter when it snowed 91 inches. He continued that work through the years, and was known as “Frank the Snow Shoveler,” mainly working in the downtown area, clearing walks, driveways, parking lots and roofs. He also worked at the cemetery for 16 years.

Turney attended nearly every meeting of the Fairbanks City Council over many years and provided public testimony on agenda items at nearly every meeting. His death was announced during the city council meeting on Monday night.


  1. Frank Turney was an extremely great advocate for Liberty and a hero to like minded people. He will be greatly missed by all. Rest in Peace. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  2. Frank always had a good story or two to tell. One of them went like this:
    About a dozen years ago in Fairbanks, a couple of union-busters went on a mission to help unseat a woman Democrat who resided on the Borough Assembly, and, who’s husband was actively campaigning for a state House seat. They asked Frank to enter the race as an Independent candidate, where they would assist him with some important information about the Democrat. Frank obliged and entered the House race in Fairbanks.
    The important information was that the woman, and her husband, had been convicted in the early 80’s for trafficing cocaine, a felony which they were successfully able to conceal from the public during their campaigns. The woman’s brother was a former Fairbanks Borough mayor, and her husband’s attorney in the early 80’s was Steve Cowper, later an aspiring governor candidate.
    That information was all preserved in old court documents from 30 years prior, sent to Frank Turney from an unknown source in Anchorage. When Frank got the documents, he went directly to all the tv news stations in Fairbanks and had it released. Later that fall, both the husband and wife lost their political races. The former mayor and governor, both union-backed Democrats, were embarrassed by the disclosure. The entire story turned out to be true. Frank lost his race too, but was a temporary hero.
    Frank was no pure Conservative or Republican, but he sure knew how to lend a hand when needed.

    • It’s totally true. Governor Cowper was defense lawyer for the guy and his wife. They had a cocaine dealing business out of their home and got caught by the cops. They pled out and Cowper got them minimal time. Her older brother was elected in the late 80’s/early 90’s to FNSB mayor and Cowper went on to become the governor. The husband/wife political career was over, though. And none of this would have come out if it wasn’t for Frank Turney. God rest his soul.

      • Frank Turney had a moral compass and a keen sense for individual rights. While some judges showed a vituperous disdain towards jury nullification, Frank approached the subject from the point of view that sometimes the law is an a$$. And guess what? Frank was right!

      • Frank mentioned this accounting to me also. The reason he went to the press with the story was because he didn’t think that a husband and wife who sold drugs in the community, and to kids, should be in elected office. And I agree. Frank Turney…….one of the good guys in Fairbanks.

  3. Frank was 72 and battled COPD-related stuff for years, so I’m not sure about the “unexpectedly” part. Thanks in part to his efforts, we know that Schaeffer Cox isn’t at Terre Haute anymore. After all these years, I’m still trying to figure out where 1083 Media Lane is located.

  4. The founding fathers left us three boxes to protect our freedom–the jury box, the ballot box, and the cartridge box. Frank understood this very well. To honor Frank Turney, please go to

    • Thanks Scott for mentioning, The Fully Informed Jury Association. Twenty years ago when working in Alaska I had a few conversations with Frank about jury rights, his educational efforts will be missed.

      Steve Hicks, Montana

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