Tuesday (Oct 1st) is municipal Election Day in Nome, but out of six positions on the ballot, only the mayor’s seat is being contested. Nome resident Keith Morrison is running against incumbent Mayor Richard Beneville.
Beneville says his reason for running again is simple.
“I genuinely enjoy it, and I feel in my heart this sense of giving back to the people that have helped me. So much of my life has changed, I’ve lived in Nome longer than anywhere I’ve lived in my life. I sobered up in Nome and I want to serve the people of Nome.”-Richard Beneville
This would be the third-term for Mayor Beneville. During his previous terms he says he has learned to lean on the knowledge he’s gained from living in the region for years. One of his strengths, Beneville feels, is being able to listen.
“We’re in a time of change on many different levels and I feel that I am maybe, a very good person to bridge some of those changes… we have some bridges to mend with the public and City Hall and I want to be involved with that… I am involved with that”.-Richard Beneville
For the mayor, an essential part of “mending that bridge” is the Public Safety Commission. Beneville thinks it will work to restore trust and make the city of Nome more inclusive.
“That is what the Public Safety Commission is about. It’s about making everybody, trying to make everybody, feel safe and secure and satisfied that their police department is doing the job that they need to have done.”-Richard Beneville
Keith Morrison has also been a vocal advocate for the Public Safety Commission, attending workshops and meetings as the group was formed. He works for Behavioral Health Services at Norton Sound Health Corporation and identifies as a citizen of Nome, husband, father, and grandfather. The City is going in a positive direction, he feels, but Morrison still sees the need for more work.
“There’s quite a bit of heavy-lifting when it comes to equity, and race relations and true community-building.”– Keith Morrison
The mayor’s role is ceremonial in many ways. The position is responsible for breaking tied votes at City Council and suggesting appointees to public commissions. Morrison sees this role as one that could be used to invite more people into the conversation with the City. Inviting the four recognized tribes of the Nome-region; Solomon, Council, Nome Eskimo, and King Island, to a dialogue is a place where Morrison sees himself starting to, “talk more about the possibilities of collaborations.”
” Because in the end, all of the things that the current administration says are important are nothing new. These things have been important for decades and generations going back and back”.Keith Morrison
Tomorrow Nome residents will see the two mayoral candidates on the ballot along with Jerald Brown and Mark Johnson running unopposed for City Council seats “E” and “F”. Darlene Trigg and Barb Amarok are running to maintain seats “A” and “E” on the Board of Education. Pat Knodel seeks to maintain Utility Board Seat “A”.
Nome’s polling place will be open for voting, from 8am to 8pm at Old St. Joe’s.
Image at top: Nome voters at the polls. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.