After no one filed for candidacy in this year’s City Council race in North Pole, Alaska, Santa Claus decided he would seize the day and run himself. Sixty-eight-year-old Claus is one of the biggest evangelists for North Pole, having once run for its Chamber of Commerce.
He is not a North Pole native — he previously lived in Nevada, where he decided to legally change his name after debating the idea on the way to the post office in 2005. The heavily bearded man with a twinkle in his eye and rosy cheeks was walking and praying, he told the Alaska Dispatch News in 2013, when a man yelled, “I love you, Santa.” After that he was sure a name change was a good idea.
The Anglican monk formerly known as Tom O’Connor then decided it would do wonders for his brand if he moved to North Pole, which he did three years ago after running two write-in presidential campaigns and finding out that the name “Santa Claus” can sometimes lead to issues at the airport. (It isn’t clear whether security thought the name was suspicious or if they were confused about why Santa was flying commercial instead of on his private sleigh.)
La Nae Bellamy is also running a write-in campaign for City Council; there are two seats up for grabs this year. Based on his past mentions in local news in Alaska, the issues Claus cares about most include children’s protective services, fighting the commercialization of Christmas, and medical marijuana. Claus spoke at a City Council meeting in June when the town debated banning pot sales; Alaska legalized marijuana in February.
“As far as the image goes here at North Pole, how do most people perceive Santa Claus? I would say Santa Claus is a pretty jolly fellow,” he said shortly before officials decided to reject a ban. “I am a medical marijuana patient. I would like to have access to medical marijuana here in North Pole and not have to travel to Fairbanks to get it.”
Even if voters are unaware that he is running, Claus may get an impressive number of votes anyway, as his name is already one of the most popular write-in picks for jokers around the country. In the 2011 mayoral election in North Slope, Alaska, at least one person voted “Santa Claus.” In the 2008 presidential race, nine people voted for Santa Claus — it seems unlikely that every single one of those voters was aware that Claus was actually running a campaign that year — meaning that he got four more votes than Donald Duck or Jesus.