Fairbanks Mayor Reflects on First Year in Office

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Today marks City of Fairbanks Mayor, Jim Matherly's one-year anniversary in office.
David Spindler spoke to the mayor, who reflected on his overall experience and challenges in his past year.

One year ago on October 24th, Jim Matherly was sworn into office as the new and current city mayor. His first few weeks in office proved to be difficult and challenging. Mayor Matherly reflected on the death of Sergeant Allen Brandt and the difficult task of writing up last year's city budget. He explains what it was like for him to step into the role as mayor a year ago.

Mayor Jim Matherly; City of Fairbanks>>"So I often will tell people that I feel like I became the mayor the night that he passed away because we had a vigil for him in front of the police department. And what an honor it was to speak at that. So even though that was a bit of a low point, it was the perfect time for me to start. It gave me a chance to find my voice. It gave me a chance to pay tribute to a hero that worked for the city. Other than that, other pressure points would have been just getting used to the job."

Council members David Pruhs, June Rogers, and Jerry Cleworth shared their thoughts and comments on what they thought about the mayor's first year.

June Rogers; Fairbanks City Council Member>>"The most important strengths that our current mayor brings to this is his positive attitude."

David Pruhs; Fairbanks City Council Member>>"You can see how it's become more natural to him in the last year. And that's what you want to see, you want to see the progression. He's progressing very well as both a mayor and as a person."

Jerry Cleworth; Fairbanks City Council Member>>"I think the mayor just brings to the office a lot of the enthusiasm. He's grown up in Fairbanks, he knows the history."

Mayor Matherly attended social and public events to stay in touch with the community. Some of the events he has attended were the Tanana Chief's Conference, WEIO, and most recently, promoting awareness of the opioid crisis.

Mayor Jim Matherly; City of Fairbanks>>"I can't be an effective mayor if I don't get involved in the community, more than what I already was. So going to all these events, meeting all these people. I enjoy going to these social events and of course let's don't forget WEIO, WEIO was an incredible experience for me."

About three to four months into his first year, Mayor Matherly began reaching out to a larger audience through social media such as Facebook. He occasionally gives live Facebook updates from city hall.

Mayor Jim Matherly; City of Fairbanks>>"If I want to be accessible it's more than just emailing me which they can do. It's more than just calling me. They can even come visit at the office or get a hold of me through Facebook. So the Facebook live events have been fun and shared numerous times and you know if I'm giving good information about the city, that's a good way to spread it out."

Matherly explains why he thinks city council meetings are essential.

Mayor Jim Matherly; City of Fairbanks>>"So at the city council meetings I've had to learn my rhythm I've had to learn my personality but I love it when I see new faces. Sometimes makes a quicker more direct effect on someone than even a national level or even a state level. The local level of government is what touches you the fastest and makes the bigger impact in my opinion."

Matherly says what it means to him to serve as the mayor of Fairbanks.

Mayor Jim Matherly; City of Fairbanks>>"I don't look at this as a focus on me rather as a focus on them who helped me to get here. So being the mayor just talks about me, being their mayor puts the focus on them. And I never lost sight of that. I am their mayor and if they come up and if I have time and if I am not sitting down doing something else, I'll speak with folks. So to me that's what being a public servant is when you serve someone you really really serve them."

David Spindler reporting.