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Palin's 'Mayor Mobile' goes to Fairbanks fan

Zaz Hollander
Wasilla Department of Public Work

WASILLA -- Former Gov. Sarah Palin's "Mayor Mobile" is headed north.

A woman from Fairbanks will be the new owner of the tan 1999 Ford Expedition XLT that Palin once drove as mayor of Wasilla.

The City of Wasilla decided to auction off the SUV on eBay to fund the municipal vehicle fleet, though a proposal to be decided Monday night would use the money to feed the hungry.

The unidentified Fairbanksan made the winning offer of $10,300 before bidding closed Nov. 28, according to Archie Giddings, Wasilla's public works director.

The city has the money in hand but the woman hasn't picked up the vehicle yet, Giddings said Monday morning, adding he couldn't yet identify the new owner.

"She does collect some cars and she's a Palin admirer," he said.

The 5.4-liter Expedition comes with air conditioning, power locks and windows and cruise control -- and four-wheel drive. The former mayor drove the Expedition new from the start of her second term until 2002.

City officials are still deciding how to spend the money.

Proceeds from the sale of the Expedition could be $8,000 or more, given the size of the bid minus the car's estimated value: up to $2,355 depending on condition, according to Kelley Blue Book.

The Wasilla City Council was expected to vote Monday night whether to donate proceeds from "the Sarah Palin Mayor Mobile" to the Food Pantry of Wasilla as proposed by Deputy Mayor Colleen Sullivan-Leonard.

"Eight thousand is going to go a long way to restock their shelves," Sullivan-Leonard said in an interview Monday. "Certainly the money could go to any charity but I picked one that I thought would be the most beneficial for many citizens."

The proposal is getting pushback from Wasilla Mayor Verne Rupright, the orginator of the eBay idea. Sullivan-Leonard has announced her plans to run for mayor next year, when Rupright's term ends.

Rupright added a hand-written note on Sullivan-Leonard's item in the city council packet: "Not recommended by staff."

The mayor did not return a call for comment Monday. He has said he is wary of earmarking the money for just one charity without using a more formal process to give other nonprofits a chance.

The city started bidding at $10,000. Besides the winning offer, the SUV snared three lower offers of $10,000, $10,100 and $10,200.

The Expedition needs a few repairs: new brakes, wheel seals and an idle control valve. It's got 74,188 miles on the odometer, a powerful V8 engine, and reportedly gets a gas-guzzling 14 miles to the gallon.

Since Palin moved on in 2002, the Expedition has served as a staff car for subsequent administrations. The city has kept it in storage.

And no, it does not come with the cardboard cutout that shows Palin grinning from the driver seat.

The city borrowed the life-size Palin image from the Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce, where the cut-out greets visitors who often snap photos with it. The virtual Palin was only missing for three or four days from chamber offices on East Railroad Avenue.

She was missed.

"We had quite a few people ask about it," said Becky Ratterree, the chamber's membership coordinator. "I think people are used to seeing her when they come in."

Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or 257-4317.

 


By ZAZ HOLLANDER
zhollander@adn.com