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Councilman Organizes "Fairbanks Love Fest" Rally to Support Mayor's Veto Of Civil Rights Ordinance

Supporters of Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly rallied on the City Hall steps last night. About 110 people heard positive comments about the city and the mayor, a week after he vetoed a controversial civil rights ordinance. 



Stories about a kind and supportive community were shared by church pastors and business owners, who often mentioned the mayor, but not his veto. Neither was Ordinance 6093 mentioned by any of the speakers. Pastor Mark Zweifel of True North Christian Church welcomed the crowd and told them why he moved here five years ago.

“We love the educators in the city, too. They get up every morning and say ‘let’s invest in the next generation.’ I love those who choose to stay through the economic upturns and downturns, and they call Fairbanks home because they love the people of Fairbanks, Alaska.”

Jenn Oden told of support during a family hardship.

“We have four small children, we were trying to make decisions about whether to get food or gas, get heating fuel or socks for the kids. We were feeling pretty desperate. An agency came to me and said there might be somebody who can help, and they pointed me towards the food bank.”

Announcements for the rally encouraged people to come and show how positive and welcoming Fairbanks is, and to show their support for the mayor. But comments on social media went a step further to blast the LGBT community for its activism. No one took up that thread at the rally, however. In fact no one mentioned the LGBT community, except a passing reference by local comedian Glenn Anderson, who told a story about all kinds of people getting along.

“And then an hour later, the local PFLAG group had a gay rights parade. And it was awesome. And once again, everybody at that basketball court, and the bikers, everybody stopped and went out and cheered on the gay rights parade as it went through town. And they cheered them just as hard. And that’s what Fairbanks does.”

There was only one sign at the rally that specifically mentioned the city ordinance 6093. The ordinance was introduced in December, and was similar to Anchorage’s and Juneau’s civil rights laws with clauses about race, color, age, religion, sex, family status and sexual orientation. But it became larger when conservative politically-active churches took over public comment about Transgender rights.

The council held eight worksessions on the measure and passed the ordinance on February 28, four-to-two. Four days later Mayor Matherly vetoed the ordinance, saying he thought too many out-of city comments influenced the council, and he would rather the citizens vote on the measure in October.

Several prominent conservative politicians attended the rally, but none spoke as organizers said it was not to be political. But Pastor Zweifel slipped in a mention of the mayor’s veto that was taken up by some counter-protestors.

“And I want to say thank-you publicly for our mayor, who said ‘I’m gonna lead our city into what I feel is like is the people’s choice to vote and say yes.’ And I know it is not a political rally. Thank you city council…”

Voice from crowd: “The City Council voted!”

Zweifel: “for the countless hours…”

Voice from crowd: “The City Council voted!”

Zweifel: “…you put into it. And I appreciate the fact that we live in an incredible city, am I right? Give it up for our city!”