Candidate Profile: Robert Shields runs for Borough Mayor

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 5:16 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Robert Shields is running for Mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

He said he is running because the world is rapidly changing. “I’ve been working on finding endgame solutions to these economic challenges for many, many years,” he explained, adding, “I know a lot of people have felt, for a long time, that they don’t fit into this world, and maybe it’s because they’re here to create a new one, so that’s where I really feel like now is the time where I can bring solutions, funding, new job creation, all kinds of things to the borough that just don’t exist right now, and I think now is the time. I think that people of this town are ready to leap forward, to look into the future and embrace what that could mean for Fairbanks.”

Shields wants to make sure that Alaska is still a good place to raise a family 140 years from now. “In that context, what I could do in the three-year term that I serve is to put forth things that will develop in that five-year plan that can lead toward that generational prosperity - and they’re really simple, and they’re the things I’ve been working on for the last decade.”

Shields said he would prioritize taking municipal and school district buildings off of Golden Valley Electric Association’s grid. “The research has been done. The funding’s there. The technology is there. We simply haven’t had the political will to make that move, but that would save millions of dollars and provide us an outline of what the future can look like.”

He would also work toward zero waste and food sovereignty. “Food sovereignty is being able to have control of the means of production, and right now Alaska imports ninety-five percent of our food,” Shields said. “We have, recently, like a four-day supply, and that’s a very dangerous and insecure position to be in.

Shields continued, “The second thing is, and one of the things I’ve been advocating for, is to, instead of tearing down the Polaris Building, to deconstruct it. The technology exists where we can then use some of that material in actually rebuilding, or even possibly 3-D printing, a ten-story building - and my ambitions have always been to bring the community together around the idea of vertical farming as one component of that food sovereignty measure. One building that grows food, houses people, processes, and does all this kind of stuff.”

“We can no longer consider business as usual a cost-effective option. We can no longer consider getting back to normal as good enough. Everything that I’ve been working on, everything that I will continue to work on, is working towards making sure that everybody in this community can thrive together because I believe it’s the only way we can,” Shields said.

He discussed his career experience, saying, “My go-to has always been as a business consultant. In the jobs I’ve had, it’s usually always been in the business development capacity where my job was to find new ways to make money, find new ways to cut costs, and find new ways to expand the business - and right now I think the biggest revenue problem that the borough has, that the state has, and that the country has is we just need more revenue. Looking at these opportunities to create infrastructure that creates our capacities to do more broadens our tax base. Upgrading our power grid allows us to attract more businesses and create more jobs, and that allows us to basically create a whole new future.”

Shields is running against Chris Ludtke and incumbent Bryce Ward in the municipal elections on October 5th.

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