Jerry Cleworth defeated young and upcoming runner up Shannon Vargas for a seat on the city council.
“I know the city,” said veteran politician Cleworth. “I have the experience to deal with the issues at hand.”
Can anyone Challenge, Jerry?
Last year, Cleworth finished his term as city mayor and decided to not opt for re-election. The 62-year-old retail owner of a coin shop downtown, has served on the city council on and off since 1987. He has spent more time elected in office than anyone in Fairbanks history and he takes great pride in that. Cleworth has basically been in Alaska his whole life. He attended Lathrop High School and graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a business degree.
During the interviews of the candidates, Cleworth was asked what his inspiration was to gather up enough energy to run again.
“Four days after filing, no one had filed. That made me want to run again.” Said Cleworth.
As for the other candidate, Shannon Vargas, it is her first time running for public office. The 42-year-old dental assistant who attended the University of Colorado (Colorado Springs) moved to Fairbanks in 2003. Since then she has worked in politics out of the limelight.
Vargas was not in attendance last night to take any questions. Instead, she sent out an email congratulating Jerry Cleworth.
“I believe he has the best interest for Fairbanks in his heart. I look forward to working with him on the issues, and I will continue to advocate for Fairbanks and the people who live and work here.”
Cleworth won in a landslide, racking up 1680 votes to Vargas’s 944.
Although, most would acknowledge that Jerry is an excellent member to the city council and his ideas and experience will contribute greatly, there are some people who agree more with Vargas political views.
“I support her views more,” said Wendy Dominique, A budget analysis and a member of the school council. “but I knew he was going to win.”
“Everyone knows Cleworth.” Dominique added.
Cold Climate research center employee and city council member, John Davies who was at one point the mayor of Fairbanks gave his take on the outcome between Cleworth and Vargas.
“Jerry has a long run on the city council,” said Davies. “He’s a dedicated public servant, who is also pretty conservative.
When asked what he thought about his opponent, Vargas, he said, “I support Shannon because she’s progressive and young.”
“We have to get younger people on the council as well!”