Caption: (Left to Right) Stephen Bradford, President of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School Board; Paul Robbins Jr., Ketchikan Gateway Borough School Board Member; and Austin Otos, Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assemblyman pose for a photo on Oct. 27, 2021 in Ketchikan, Alaska.
KETCHIKAN, Alaska – The approximately 13.000 Alaskans residing in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough are beginning to embrace Libertarian representation and governance. Even though most don’t realize it, yet.
The small, island community elected three Libertarians to local government in the past two years: Stephen Bradford, School Board President; Austin Otos, Assemblyman; and Paul Robbins Jr., School Board member. And each of these men have applied libertarian principles to make significant, positive impacts on their community.
Bradford, a local attorney elected this October, has served previously on the school board and assembly. One of his most significant achievements has been a key role in setting up the Local Education Fund at the Borough Assembly. The fund makes it possible to forecast school funding for the next budget cycle, limits members ability to fund pet projects, and keeps the Assembly from micromanaging the Board of Education’s finances.
Otos, elected in 2019, is recognized for his advocacy of fair competition and economic freedom in the community through the Assembly, the Rotary and volunteering. He successfully led the effort to change local ordinance and allow for people to operate food trucks within the Borough, supporting economic development and better food options for consumers in the small town.
Robbins, elected in 2020 and selected to lead the School Board’s Policy Committee, has been a consistent advocate for community and parental authority over educational decisions. He played a key role in ensuring students stayed in the classroom rather than forced virtual learning throughout 2020, successfully advocated the institution of mask choice for students and staff during lower risk levels in 2021, and represented the district in opposition to a proposed state law raising the compulsory age to 18.
Though similar in approaches to principled governance, each of them came to libertarianism from different backgrounds and were elected for different reasons. Bradford was a college liaison for Ronald Reagan’s campaign in the 80’s before foreign policy disillusioned him, and embracing the Constitution (particularly the 10th amendment) drew him towards the LP. He credits his most recent election to his reputation as someone who keeps governing bodies transparent and focused to their limited purpose.
Robbins’ reflection on his wartime service and experiencing the weight of economically oppressive government in California drew him to the LP. He believes his roles in the community (VFW commander, volunteer for local sports) demonstrated his commitment and had more impact on his election than any platform points.
Otos was drawn to the LP early by the idea that individuals can be free to pursue thier own ends as long as it doesn’t harm others. He attributes a fresh and new perspective on issues as the leading factor in his election, with voters seeing their government stifled with out of date thinking from incumbents who’ve been there too long.
Each are serving three-year terms in their seats and regularly encourage their fellow citizens to step forward and ensure, at the local level at least, we are governed by the principles of liberty, limited government, and non-aggression.