Experienced local politicians and new faces are running for the elections in the most northern region this year.
North Slope Borough Assembly elections
Seat A-1, Point Hope
In District A-1, Point Hope, veteran community leader Rex Allen Rock Sr. is running against the incumbent Eva Kinneeveauk. Rock hasn’t responded to requests for comments before Monday and Kinneeveauk had to decline due to a family emergency.
Besides being the president of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and overseeing its business operations, Rock served in many capacities in Point Hope in the past. For example, he was the president of Tikigaq Corporation where he advocated for educational scholarships and a coach for the Tikigaq High School boys’ varsity basketball team. Rock is a well-known, experienced whaling captain and he sits on the St. Thomas Episcopal Church Council.
Kinneeveauk is the president of the Native Village of Point Hope and a member of the board of directors at Maniilaq Association. Representing the village in the Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat, Kinneeveauk has advocated for the thriving subsistence resources, traditional Iñupiaq way of life and a robust and diverse regional economy.
Seat A3-B, Utqiaġvik
Three candidates are competing for the District A3-B, Barrow seat: Don Anthony Nuunaq Nungasak who couldn’t be reached, Martin Edwardsen and Doreen June Leavitt.
Edwardsen declined to speak about his candidacy because he was on vacation overseas, but when he ran for the city mayor position last year, he spoke about the need for recreation for youth and supporting hunters and fishermen.
Leavitt is from Utqiaġvik and is the daughter of the late Robert and Florence Fogg. She said she decided to run for the assembly seat to support the borough’s sovereignty and ability to care for people in the region.
“Over the years, I have seen decisions being made by our lawmakers that are not based on informed choices, not based on our responsibilities of our NSB Charter and not based on the greater good for all residents,” she said. “I want to help make our region better for all people.”
Leavitt spent most of her career in public health, working as a director and deputy director of the borough department of health, public health nurse and serving as a vice-chair of the ASNA Board. The experience, she said, made her see the value of a properly functioning health system.
“Health and well-being are most important to me,” she said. “You can not have good health, education, a safe home, and good sustainable jobs without each other. They are not exclusive of one another. Meaning, we have to address our whole system and not just pieces of it to ensure a healthy individual, family and community.
If elected, Leavitt plans to focus on following a balanced budget, ensuring that the borough has fair and just contracts, as well as supporting essential public safety services such as police and fire.
“In the state of our current economy, we must continue essential services that not only protect life and infrastructures but enhance them with the forethought to plan for the future and our future generations,” she said.
Seat A-3E, Utqiaġvik
Another Utqiaġvik seat, District A-3E, will be taken by either incumbent Frederick Brower or Corrine Tuurraq Danner.
Danner declined to speak about her candidacy this year. She ran for the assembly in 2022, and in her campaign, wanted to focus on ensuring economic opportunities for residents, improving health services and addressing the ongoing issues of housing shortages, drug and alcohol abuse, depression and suicide.
“My vision for the people of the North Slope is to see our younger generations thriving; we must ensure that we lead and give them the guidance they need to succeed,” Danner said last fall. “We need to respect and accommodate our Inupiaq values in everything that we do. We must prioritize the wellness of our people and protecting our ways of life.”
Brower, who serves as the housing director at Native Village Of Barrow, did not respond to requests for comments about his candidacy before Monday.
Seat A3-F, Utqiaġvik
Incumbent Vernon James Amaulik Edwardsen is the only candidate running for the A-3F Barrow seat. Last week he was busy at a fish camp and couldn’t speak about his candidacy.
Edwardsen was born and raised in Utqiaġvik and is a captain of the Amaulik whaling crew. He has also worked as a general manager at UIC’s Real Estate Division, project manager for home building at the Native Village of Barrow and served on the Barrow Search and Rescue Board. He is also a current borough assembly president.
No Assembly candidates filed for the District A-5 seat, representing Point Lay and Atqasuk.
North Slope Borough Board of Education elections
In the North Slope school board races, the current president of the School Board and incumbent Robyn Burke is running for Seat A representing Utqiaġvik. She has not responded to requests for comment.
For another Utqiaġvik seat —Seat B — School Board Clerk Frieda N. Kaleak is running against incumbent Qaiyaan Harcharek. Neither of the candidates shared comments about their candidacy before Monday.
Harcharek ran for the city mayor position last year and shared that, as a survivor of depression, he wanted to prioritize the mental health of the community.
No one filed for the Seat C representing Wainwright and Atqasuk.
Utqiaġvik city elections
Utqiaġvik City Council has seats E and F that are opening up.
Heather Hopson is running against Frieda Kaleak for Seat E. George “Payuk” Pimental Jr. and Sarah M. Tua’i are competing for Seat F.
Tua’i was the only candidate who responded to questions about why she is running for the seat.
Tua’i was born in Kiana and grew up in Utqiaġvik since the 11th grade. Half Eskimo and half Mexican, Tua’i is married to Isikei Tua’i and has 12 children and four grandchildren. She has been serving the Barrow School Advisory Council for over nine years, is a member of the Rotary Club of Barrow-Nuvuk for 13 years, and has worked at the North Slope Borough Mayor’s Office, Grants Division, as well as the Department of Administration and Finance Central Office.
Running for the city mayor position, Tua’i said she plans to get involved in all the main responsibilities of the city: taxes on alcohol and tobacco; cemeteries, bingo, DMV, Eben Hopson Memorial Scholarship, Taxi Cab Commission, business licenses — and recreation, so crucial to helping children and teenagers stay engaged and healthy.
“I strongly feel we are in a position to dramatically improve the quality of lives for our community, but especially for our children,” Tua’i said. “We need additional space for youth activities, as well as making investments to improve our existing facilities. We need to offer more activities, tailored to the communities wants and needs. We need to actually get out and ask the community what forms of recreation it wants, or needs!”
She said that to secure funding for new programs and facilities, she wants to use her experience in securing and administering grant funds and donations.
“The thing that sets a small town apart from the rest of the world, is that we know each so well, and have learned to actually rely on each other. In Utqiaġvik, we pick up each other’s children, we pick up each other’s mail, we shop for each other locally or when we are out of town,” she said. “In Utqiaġvik, we may have our disagreements with each other, but those are forgotten in a moment when someone in our small town is in need. In short, we are one small town, but also one gigantic family, and family serves each other.”
Correction: The previous version of the story incorrectly named the incumbent for the North Slope Borough Assembly Seat A2-B. It was Doreen Ahgeak Lampe.