FAIRBANKS — Rep. Tammie Wilson signaled plans to run for borough mayor by filing a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Wednesday.
Former North Pole mayor and legislator Doug Isaacson scrapped his tentative bid for borough mayor, leaving Wilson and Karl Kassel, presiding officer of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, to be the only declared candidates.
But with the filing period set to open on Aug. 3, the field of candidates is by no means set.
Wilson decided to run for mayor after spending the last few weeks gathering signatures for a ballot measure that aims to loosen regulations on wood burning.
“I sat on the sidewalk for a couple of weeks and the majority of things I heard are that people are tired of the borough making more and more regulations and telling them how they should live,” the North Pole Republican said. “We just can’t go three more years on the path that we have been going.”
Wilson said she spoke to Isaacson before deciding to run. She has served in the state House since she was appointed in 2009, the same year she lost a bid for borough mayor against Luke Hopkins, who has served two terms and must step down owing to term limits.
Wilson won re-election to the state House three times, in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but the state lawmaker would be required to resign from the House of Representatives under the state Constitution if she were elected to the office of borough mayor.
Isaacson filed a letter of intent to run for mayor months ago, but said he did it to keep his options open. He decided to forgo a mayoral run to focus on his consulting business, Doug Isaacson and Associates, he said Wednesday.
In a text to supporters, Isaacson wrote that he hopes the next mayor restricts government growth and that he will continue to look for ways to serve.
Kassel, the former head of the borough Parks and Recreation Department, filed a letter of intent months ago and launched his campaign in June with a kickoff party at the Fairbanks home of former Democratic Sen. Joe Paskvan.
“I’m not surprised. I was fully expecting some other candidates in the field,” he said. “I guess it gives people choices, which is a good thing. Our community will have the opportunity to choose a direction.”
Kassel said he has been both a registered Republican and a registered Democrat, but he considers himself an independent.
“I am not going to be influenced by any party,” he said. “I think that is a good thing.”
Kassel is serving his second term on the assembly after winning re-election in 2013. He has served as the assembly’s presiding officer for the last two years. In 2008, he ran for state House, losing to Republican Mike Kelly by four votes.
On the Borough Assembly, all three incumbents whose terms end this year have filed letters of intent to run for re-election. They are Assemblymembers Kathryn Dodge, Van Lawrence and Lance Roberts. No challengers have yet emerged.
Qualified candidates for borough office must be a registered voter in Alaska and have lived in the borough for a year before filing for office.
The job of borough mayor pays an annual salary of $104,400. Assembly members receive a stipend of $900 per month.
Elected offices at the borough are nonpartisan.
Reporter Matt Buxton contributed to this report.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587.
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