With Bethel City Council elections coming up, KYUK wants to learn more about the candidates that are running. Some are fresh faces, some are familiar. KYUK’s Greg Kim sat down with incumbent Fritz Charles. You can listen to the full Coffee@KYUK interview online.
Fritz Charles moved to Bethel in 1995. He currently works several jobs as a mechanic, a translator, and as a flight dispatcher at Yuut Commuter Services. He says that he loves politics. He called it one of his defining characteristics.
“I love helping people out, the community, where I live, and it makes a good feeling,” Charles said.
He is a traditional council member in Tuntutuliak, Vice-President of Bethel Search and Rescue, and a co-chair on the Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group.
Charles served on city council for a one-year term this past year. He says that one of the things that makes him a good council member is that he’s from the area and speaks Yugtun.
“Majority of the people that I speak to, they are always thankful that I’m on city council and doing right by what the Yup’ik people want,” Charles said.
In his past year, Charles is most proud of having started the process to hire a dog-catcher and the Avenues Piped Water and Sewer project. He says that he sees the majority and minority factions on council, but he doesn’t think it’s good or bad.
“To me, right now, it’s up in the air,” Charles said. “You know, I go with my own judgment. I don’t have any favoritism going on with anybody, I just go along with what’s better for the city.”
On Bethel’s ailments, Charles said, “The biggest issue is, of course, the alcohol. There’s always going to be issues, no matter what we do, no matter what the council does, alcohol is always going to be here.”
Charles says that the city needs to come up with a solution together, through group consensus.