By Matt Buxton /

FAIRBANKS—The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly will consider updating its election rules at its meeting Thursday by authorizing the presence of poll watchers and allowing candidates to file electronically.

The proposed ordinance also updates candidacy requirements for borough elected officials and officially adds the Interior Gas Utility’s board to the municipal ballot.

Borough Clerk Nanci Ashford-Bingham explained during a work session on the ordinance that electronic filings and poll watchers have been requested in prior elections.

The assembly spent most of the time at the work session discussing changes to candidacy requirements for borough mayor, assembly, school board and the Interior Gas Utility board.

The ordinance clarifies residency requirements for each position as well as term limits. One year of borough residency immediately prior to election is required; a person can hold office for a maximum of two consecutive three-year terms.

During the work session last week, some assembly members had concerns about requirements that bar sitting members on separate elected bodies from being candidates. The rule would require potential candidates resign from a body before filing. Some thought it wouldn’t be fair to require candidates to give up their elected positions just to run.

Assemblyman Lance Roberts put forward a proposed substitute that would allow sitting elected officials to run for borough elective office but that would allow them to hold only one elective office at a time. He also did away with a proposal that would have allowed elected officials to serve on the Interior Gas Utility’s board.

The bulk of Roberts’ rewrite focused on consolidating candidacy requirements for the mayor, assembly and school board into one section in the code.

The Interior Gas Utility’s board is made up of seven members. Four members will be elected at-large by borough voters. Three will be appointed — one each by the borough mayor, Fairbanks mayor and North Pole mayor.

The assembly will hold a public hearing, debate and take action on the ordinance at its regular meeting starting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The assembly is also expected to take up ordinances dealing with a rewrite of truancy rules and borough zoning rules to allow distilleries to operate in commercial zones.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.