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Meet William Weatherby – candidate, fix-it guy

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William Weatherby, candidate House District 37

If there’s ever a zombie apocalypse or nuclear winter, you’re going to want to have William Weatherby at your side. Whatever the challenge, he’ll just figure it out and make it work. He looks at running for the Legislature as just another thing to figure out.

William is the MacGyver type of Alaskan who can fix just about anything. Nothing that is  broken scares him. He’s been fixing things all his life. Now, he wants to help fix the state’s budget deficit and sees no reason why he can’t be the one to do so.

Weatherby lives in King Salmon, where he is running for House District 37 as the Republican candidate challenging Democrat incumbent Rep. Bryce Edgmon.

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William Weatherby on his family farm on the wild coast of Oregon.

EARLY YEARS: HORSES, COWS, CHICKENS, TRACTORS

William grew up on a family dairy farm in Tillamook, Oregon. His family owned shares in the Tillamook Creamery Association, a farmer-owned co-op. “You might have eaten some of our cheese,” he quips. Yes, we probably have.

The family proudly displayed a “Dairy of Honor” sign on their property, a recognition that things were being run right: No hormones. Clean operation.

A 4-H Club member with his fair share of prize chickens and family chores, William was driving a truck by age 7, as his stepdad loaded up bales of hay onto the flatbed. His family didn’t run a rich farm, so they did their own mechanical and veterinary work. They rarely had hired help. They just made it work.

Like a young man would, William found construction jobs and lineman work, and he took apart and put together many an old International Scout, driving one all the way from the stormy west coast of Oregon to the tip of Long Island, New York.

A road trip that was supposed to last three weeks wound into more than a year, with adventures to last a lifetime.

Through the individualistic people he met along the way, he scored a summer job working at the Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park. He was the handyman, again learning as he went. Making it work.

“I’d never worked on a boiler that was run with fuel oil, but I just dove in and figured it out,” William says.

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You don’t need a manicure to fix the Alaska state budget.

William bought an old abandoned house in King Salmon after seeing it for sale on Craigslist. With pipes that were broken, and no working electrical systems, he holed up in the smallest upstairs room and lived there the first winter, using his cook stove to warm the place.

It wasn’t much more than an encampment, but over the years, he’s brought it back to life.

William, who continues to take apart International Scouts and put them back together, has worked through a variety of seasonal jobs, whether it’s driving a fuel truck or a school bus, and he takes on other work to keep himself going in a place that he has made his home.

If you’re going to live in a small, remote town in Alaska, you’d better be enterprising, and he is all that, with the skills he learned back on the farm.

He got involved in politics several years ago during the Ron Paul era and, as a Republican, became a delegate to the Republican state convention. He was elected vice chairman of his district. People started telling him he should run for office.

After awhile, it made sense.

“I noticed that when I went to vote, the incumbent (Edgmon) was running unopposed. I think I wrote in Mickey Mouse,” William says. “And although it was farfetched I would be a House member, I felt like we don’t really know who this guy is who represents us. He never contacts us and asks our opinion.”

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William looked into his opponent’s voting record — he agreed with some of it and disagreed with other votes. But as he started paying attention to the state’s fiscal problems, William became convinced he would do a better job.

“I thought maybe I should study more and be absolutely ready, but then a friend of mine asked a good question: When have I ever been completely ready for the next thing I tackled? That’s a great point. I’ll keep studying the issues, and I’ll figure it out. If the people elect me, I don’t have to be an expert in every aspect of our state to represent my district.”

And he considered this: If he just studied for the next two years, would our state be in better shape? Not likely. He decided to roll up his sleeves and jump in as a candidate, his first foray into the field of elected politics. His biggest strategy? To communicate with the people of the district. To work hard. To listen to the people.

“That’s been my style and it’s worked quite well for me,” he says. If the voters see it his way, William Weatherby will make it work.

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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.

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