North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward is running for mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The 31-year-old construction contractor is the first candidate to declare his interest in replacing Karl Kassel, who recently decided not to seek a second term.
Ward is serving his second term as North Pole mayor. He says he was just beginning to look forward to devoting himself fulltime to his contracting business again, when borough Mayor Karl Kassel announced two weeks ago that he will not seek re-election to a second term. Ward says that’s when he started to hear from his supporters.
“I had a lot of folks in the community who came to me and said ‘Hey, we really feel you’re passionate and you love the community, and you’ve done a good job with what you’ve done so far for North Pole, and we think you’d be good at that,’ ” he said.
Ward says he gave some thought to the idea of running for borough mayor and talked with his wife about it. And he says in the end he based his decision to run on his commitment to public service.
“I kind of went back to the reason why I first got involved in politics,” he said, “which was: “You can’t expect someone else to do it, if you’re not willing to do it yourself.”
Ward’s political experience is limited to his run for the North Pole City Council, where he served for a year before being elected mayor. Ward was born and raised in the Fairbanks area, graduated from Lathrop High School and went on to study at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“I have a degree, an associate’s degree, in business and a certificate in management here from UAF,” he said.
Ward says he’s had to work with the borough on a number of issues as a councilman and mayor, including dealing with such problems as groundwater contamination and poor air quality and helping facilitate installation of pipe for natural gas delivery once the Interior Gas Utility is established.
“I have been heavily involved in things as the mayor of North Pole, and really do feel like I have a good understanding of the borough’s processes.”
Officials with the Borough Clerk's office and the Alaska Public Offices Commission say Ward is the only candidate so far to have submitted a letter of interest stating an intention to run for borough mayor. That qualifies him to be able to solicit, accept and spend campaign donations.
The filing period for the office doesn’t open until July 16. The municipal election will be held Oct. 2.