Pierce joins race for governor

The borough mayor notified local officials in an email Thursday

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is running for governor, according to a letter of intent filed last week with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Pierce on Thursday notified borough officials of his intent to run, Aaron Rhoades, Pierce’s chief of staff, confirmed via text message Thursday.

“Mayor Pierce has filed to run for the Governor of the State of Alaska today,” the email to officials states. “We wanted to make sure you heard this directly from a reliable source and as a courtesy for your valued service and dedication.”

Brenda Ahlberg, the emergency manager for the borough, confirmed via text message that she and other borough officials received an email from Rhoades earlier on Thursday, announcing Pierce’s run.

A screenshot of the email was posted on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, and Rhoades confirmed it was legitimate.

“I sent it to our leadership as a professional courtesy, to ensure we keep trust high and that they hear from the Mayor first on matters of importance like this,” Rhoades said via text message.

Ahlberg was one of 10 borough employees to receive the email announcement.

Pierce is finishing up his second mayoral term, after being elected in 2017 and again in 2020. Due to term limits, he cannot run for the mayor’s seat in 2023.

According to a Saturday press release from his gubernatorial campaign, Pierce “believes that the governor and his administration must serve all Alaskans; Democrat, Republican and independent.”

He said a priority of his administration will be to restore the statutory Alaska Permanent Fund dividend and restructure state government “to be more responsive and less cumbersome.”

On Tuesday, Pierce announced former local radio host Jake Thompson to be his campaign manager.

Thompson, who ran for a seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in 2014, is a former host of KSRM’s Tall, Dark and Handsome Show and Sound-off talk-show, according to Peninsula Clarion files. He also served as the station’s operation manager and was a member of Pierce’s campaign team in the borough mayoral race, according to a Tuesday press release.

“Jake is a welcome addition to team Pierce and will be overseeing campaign operations,” Pierce said in the release. “I look forward to his leadership as we move forward.”

Neither Pierce nor Thompson had responded to interview requests by press time Tuesday.

Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy, former state legislator Les Gara, Alaska House Rep. Christopher Kurka, Libertarian candidate William Toien, Republican Bruce Walden and former Gov. Bill Walker have also announced runs for the governor’s seat.

Announcements about Pierce’s campaign can be found at charliepierceforgovernor.com or on his Facebook page.

Reporter Ashlyn O’Hara contributed to this story. Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.