The Arctic Sounder

Patkotak becomes new North Slope Borough mayor

Independent state Rep. Josiah Aullaqsruaq Patkotak was elected as the new North Slope Borough mayor after the borough certified the election results Tuesday.

Three borough assembly members and two school board members were also sworn into office on Oct. 10. Two candidates for one of the assembly seats will meet for a runoff election next month.

In a sweeping victory in the borough mayor race, Patkotak received a total of 796 votes. Trailing behind him were John Hopson Jr., a current borough assembly member and former Wainwright city mayor, with 345 votes; longtime borough assembly member Doreen Lampe with 212 votes; and former Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corp. President Anthony Edwardsen with 112 votes.

Patkotak was sworn in the new role for a three-year term during the Tuesday meeting.

“I thank God for this humbling opportunity,” he said after taking the oath. “This is not a role that I take lightly whatsoever.”

Patkotak thanked the previous administration and called residents, whether they voted for him or not, to move forward as a unit.

“We’ll share the bounty but I ask that you share the work because we have much to do,” Patkotak said. “My work starts today.”


Patkotak will relinquish his seat in the Alaska Legislature, where he currently represents District 40, covering the North Slope and Northwest Arctic Borough and several Interior Alaska villages. The governor will appoint his replacement in 30 days.

As a borough mayor, Patkotak has said he wants to expand job opportunities for residents, ensure the financial security of the borough, improve aging infrastructure in the villages and focus on new projects, such as the Utqiaġvik sea wall and ports in the Arctic.

When it comes to subsistence, Patkotak is a strong supporter of co-management, where local hunters and entities have more control over game management.

Patkotak has said he also wants to address the long-standing lack of housing in the borough by reducing hurdles for construction and transporting materials.

[Four seasoned candidates run for the North Slope Borough mayor position]

Runoff election scheduled for one of the North Slope Borough Assembly seats

None of the three candidates vying for the Utqiaġvik seat A3-B were elected to office Tuesday.

Martin Edwardsen received 545 votes, while Doreen June Leavitt got 504 votes. Don Anthony Nuunaq Nungasak with 406 votes is in third.

Since none of them received the required 40% of the votes cast for that office, the two leading candidates, Edwardsen and Leavitt, will meet in the runoff election on Nov. 7.

Edwardsen has previously advocated for recreation for youth and supporting subsistence hunters. Leavitt, who spent most of her career in public health, wants to prioritize a health system, public safety services and a balanced budget.

In the race for the Point Hope seat A-1 on the North Slope Borough Assembly, incumbent Eva Kinneeveauk defeated veteran community leader and Arctic Slope Regional Corp. president Rex Allen Rock Sr. Kinneeveauk gained 909 votes, while Rock has 530 votes.

Kinneeveauk is the president of the Native Village of Point Hope and has advocated for thriving subsistence resources, a traditional Iñupiaq way of life and a robust economy.

“I just want to thank everyone, all that came out and supported me,” Kinneeveauk said during the ceremony. “I’m still very humbled to serve our people again for the next few years.”

Incumbent Frederick Brower defeated Corrine Tuurraq Danner in the race for the A-3E Utqiaġvik seat. Brower, who serves as the housing director at the Native Village of Barrow, received 825 votes, which is over 56% of the vote. Danner received 615.

Current assembly president Vernon James Amaulik Edwardsen was the only candidate running for the Utqiaġvik seat A3-F and he gained 1,358 votes. Edwardsen is a captain of the Amaulik whaling crew and has worked at UIC’s Real Estate Division, was a project manager for home building at the Native Village of Barrow and served on the Barrow Search and Rescue Board.

“I look forward to serving all the constituents across the North Slope,” Vernon Edwardsen said after the ceremony.

No assembly candidates filed for the District A-5 seat, representing Point Lay and Atqasuk, and the seat was declared vacant.

[Experienced local politicians and new faces run for North Slope Borough and Utqiaġvik city elections]


Two Board of Education seats were filled and one was declared vacant

Two seats on the North Slope Borough Board of Education were filled during this election.

Current board president Robyn Burke ran for Seat A representing Utqiaġvik and received 1,385 votes.

“I am incredibly humbled by the support from our community,” Burke said in an interview last week.

Burke said she ran for the seat because she wants to continue supporting students, securing predictable funding, advancing capital improvement projects, advocating for broadband infrastructure and developing more Inupiaq language and culture programs in schools.

“Within this last year, we’ve been able to provide the administration with really clear direction on our mission and vision and what we envision for the school district — students who are empowered, culturally rooted, bilingual, healthy, critical and creative lifelong learners,” she said.

In the race for another Utqiaġvik seat on the Board of Education, Seat B, Frieda Kaleak defeated incumbent Qaiyaan Harcharek. Kaleak gained 913 votes, while Harcharek has 525.

No one filed for Seat E representing Wainwright and Atqasuk, and the seat was declared vacant.

The North Slope Borough residents also voted “yes” to all eight propositions on the ballot, approving the borough dedicating more than 88 million to various services, including schools, roads, power and heating systems, as well as water and sewage, sanitary and library facilities.


Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.