State lawmaker Josiah Patkotak is poised to become the next North Slope Borough mayor

A man with a blak jacket gestures while sitting on a couch
Rep. Josiah Patkotak recounts how he harvested a bowhead whale in early May. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

State Rep. Josiah Aullaqsruaq Patkotak of Utqiaġvik is the presumed winner in the race for North Slope Borough mayor.

Unofficial results show Patkotak with 54% of the vote so far, over 400 votes ahead of the next closest candidate. With a little more than 100 votes left uncounted, 29-year-old Patkotak is likely to become the youngest person to hold the position. 

The North Slope mayor job comes with a $265,000 annual salary, which is over twice Patkotak’s current take-home pay as a legislator. Patkotak — who has three young children — said serving as mayor will allow him to be closer to his family and home community of Utqiaġvik.

His victory, however, will leave a vacancy for his District 40 House seat in the Alaska Legislature. Typically replacements are chosen by the governor from the same political party as the departing legislator. But Patkotak was elected in 2022 as an independent. 

This means, according to state law, Gov. Mike Dunleavy can select “any qualified person” from Patkotak’s district. As the northernmost house district, District 40 includes the Northwest Arctic Borough and the North Slope and has a population of about 20,000 people. The majority, like Patkotak, are Iñupiat. 

Once Patkotak vacates his House seat, Dunleavy has 30 days to name a replacement. The Republican House Majority Caucus will then need to confirm the appointment. Patkotak’s replacement will serve the remainder of his term, which is set to end in 2024.

In the Legislature, Patkotak was the second youngest member to be elected to the state House. During his three years, he served as chair of the House Arctic Policy, Economic Development and Tourism committee and served briefly as Speaker of the House.

RELATED: For Alaska Rep. Josiah Patkotak, whaling ‘rises above all’

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