Meet Thomas R. McGhee and Santa Claus, candidates for North Pole City Council

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The city of North Pole has two open seats on their city council in the upcoming election and there are three candidates running for these seats, Santa Claus, Thomas R. McGhee, and Carly Nelson. Due to availability we were only able to talk to two of the candidates.

The city of North Pole has two open seats on their city council in the upcoming election and there are three candidates running for these seats, Santa Claus, Thomas R. McGhee, and Carly Nelson. Due to availability we were only able to talk to two of the candidates. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)

When asked why they wanted to run for city council this year:

Claus said, “I’m running because we’re poised for unprecedented growth in North Pole, and we’re going to have two and a half times our population with the expansion at Eielson over the next two years. I think we should be prepared for it. We’ve got a good head start but it’s going to be a lot of work, at least for city council to keep up with it all. Also, we have the PFAS concerns that we’re addressing with the Moose Creek expansion. Have a couple other things going on including our gas storage facility we’re hoping that will be moving further along but with budget cuts at the state level that’s not happening right now. So there’s some challenges ahead, and plus I would like to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in North Pole during this entire transition so I think it’s up to the city council to make sure that that happens.”

McGhee said, “So I was enjoying not being on the council, I’ve sat on the council for almost 20 years prior, but city members, city employees, residents have come to me and they’re not real happy with some of the things going on in the city and asked if I would run again, because they know I’m a voice that will be heard and that I have no problem bringing things up front to the issues.”

Both McGhee and Claus agreed that contaminated water due to firefighting foams in Moose Creek is one of the biggest issues facing the city as well as problems with the city’s budget. When asked why people should vote for them...

McGhee said, “Historically we’ve had a hard time getting people to run for the city council, it’s not a job about money, there’s not a lot of money involved in it, it requires a lot of time, it requires volunteer time to go to the meetings, and the budget sessions, and work with the people in other committees within the city. We don’t have a lot of people willing to stand up and I’m semi-retired, I own my company, I managed to work and so that gives me more opportunity to spend for the city and that’s what I hope to do.”

Claus said, “Based on my experience, I also have a good sense of humor, which is a requisite for serving on any city council anywhere in my opinion, and I know a lot of the people already on the city council, and in the city government. I have a lot of confidence and faith in the department heads, I think its good timing, it’s good for me, it lifts my spirit when I know I can contribute to the community.”

McGhee says he hopes to bring a voice to the new council members if he is elected, “let them know that they are an important voice within the city they represent the constituents even though the constituents don’t fill the council chambers at every meeting, they represent all those homeowners and property owners and residents and I want to hear them heard. I don’t want them to feel like they have to agree with the status quo on the council. I’ll set the example, with all my up to twenty years of experience, a knowledge of how the city works, I hope to help the council accomplish that, I hope to help us maintain a budget and see if we can’t reduce that property mil levy instead of increasing it, and apply the necessary fees where they should be applied.”

Claus says he thinks he has qualifications to address budget issues in the city of North Pole, “I’m a former North Pole City Councilman, and I’m a former president of North Pole Community Chamber of Commerce, I also served on the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission as a member, and I’m a former special assistant to the deputy police commissioner of New York City and that budget for that little department is 1,000 times the size of the budget for the city of North Pole.”

McGhee and Claus have both served on the North Pole City Council previously and this term would be for three years.

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