When Bryce Ward ran for mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough three years ago, one of his promises was to advance a long-term plan for building maintenance on the aging facilities of the arrondissement.
Ward kept his promise. In June 2020, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly approved a new capital improvement program largely developed by Ward, exposing more than $ 100 million in public construction projects over 10 years.
Now the 35-year-old husband and father of two, who lives in the North Pole and owns rental properties and a small outsourcing business, is running for a second term in Tuesday’s local election.
A fight against cancer has not deterred Ward’s ambition to tackle problems and improve the quality of life in the borough.
“Serving the Fairbanks North Star Borough as mayor has been the hardest thing I have ever done,” Ward wrote in an email response to questions. “I strive to do my best every day and look for ways to make things better for the average person who interacts with their local government. I believe that I can continue to improve the processes and continue to improve the overall reputation of the borough.
He has two opponents, Chris Ludtke, a libertarian and blaster at the Fort Knox gold mine, and Roberts Shields, a Green Party member who last year solicited US Senate candidate Al Gross. At. On September 21, Mary Caro Simmons, a registered non-partisan esthetician and school bus driver, filed a last-minute written application.
Ward, who was born in Fairbanks and graduated from Lathrop High School, began in politics serving on the North Pole City Council for a year before being elected mayor of the city in 2012 by a 10 percent margin in a four-way race. In 2015, he was re-elected without challenge.
In 2018, Ward won the post of borough mayor by a landslide with more votes than his three opponents combined.
Ward, who has an associate’s degree in business from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, sees himself as a frugal budget maker. He wrote that he “kept the finances of the district under control, millions under the tax ceiling and relatively stable given a considerable contribution to the capital (10 millions per year and more) and while shaking millions of lost funds for the payment of the State of Alaska school debt.
“I will continue to be diligent in budget planning processes,” he wrote.
Local property taxes collected across the region in 2018 were around $ 108 million. That rose to $ 122 million in Ward’s first year in office, according to historic budget numbers.
Spending on salaries and benefits for borough employees fell from $ 38.9 million in Ward’s first year in office to $ 47.2 million the following year, according to historic budget figures .
The city hall budget shows that half of the six employees now earn six-figure salaries.
In 2018, the year Ward first ran for borough mayor, the property tax mile rate was 12,850 miles. The current rate of a thousandth is 13.799 thousandths.
Candidate’s questions and answers
Name two of the borough’s most pressing issues and how you would tackle them.
The borough’s most pressing issues are currently the high cost of energy and housing. I have worked with our local gas utility to increase conversions and expand services in the borough by specifically targeting new developments. We also recently adopted an energy credit program for new homes with a six star rating from the FNSB. Housing will continue to play an important role in the sustainability and affordability of the future of our communities. I am committed to working with the Housing Working Group and other community partners to focus on improving all qualities of housing in our community.
What new services do the borough need and how would you pay for them?
I focus on improving existing services by improving our infrastructure and policies. I think we have a lot to offer with the current facilities we already have and our innovative staff. These improvements can be reinforced by better equipment, for example the modular ice rink at the Carlson Center.
What cuts are needed for the borough and what should happen with the money saved?
Recycling in the community continues to be a very expensive endeavor. I am in favor of high impact recycling such as electronics, batteries, oils, chemicals, paints and plastics. I question the benefits of recycling paper when it has to travel this far to be processed and can be composted here. The savings could be used to offset the cost of dumping at the landfill.
Should the borough hire more code enforcement officers to deal with the backlog of land use complaints? Why or why not?
Currently, the borough has a full-time code enforcement officer for land use matters, which is problematic since we have amended the code to allow anyone to file a complaint regarding the use of land. land. In order to process complaints faster and have enough time to work with landowners, another agent would be helpful. Applying code alone is not sufficient to resolve these problems.
The largest annual credit in the district is for public education. Is the local contribution to education too low, too high or fair? Please explain.
The local contribution to education is good, last year we contributed $ 49 million in local taxpayer funds to our local district. About $ 30 million of this “local contribution” has been deducted from what the state pays for public education. I think this is wrong and that the state should fund the basic need for education.