Incumbent Council member Richard Robb is running for his fifth term this election season and is the current Mayor of Bethel. Robb is a licensed counselor and Director of Residential Services for Behavioral Health at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.
Robb says that he’s always been passionate about public service and about helping others.
“I work in behavioral health, where I’ve helped people with mental illness, disabilities, substance abuse disorders,” said Robb. “I’ve worked with folks that are homeless, so I’ve really worked and dedicated my life to helping people. It’s something that I really enjoy.”
Robb says that he offers a unique level of knowledge, experience, and leadership that he’s proven to the community in his eight years of service on the Council, three of them as Mayor.
“One thing I do believe I have is the institutional knowledge of the City Council, institutional knowledge of the City,” said Robb. “I understand the processes, I understand the ordinances, [and] I understand the Bethel Municipal Code, I think very well. Probably as good as anyone.”
Robb has served on many commissions and committees in the past, including the old Parks and Recreation Commission, and he currently serves as the Council representative on the Energy Committee. He’s the President of the Alaska Conference of Mayors and a member of the Board of the Alaska Municipal League.
“Two years ago I was elected to be on the Board of Directors for District Eight, which is interior rivers and coasts, which is our YK Delta and some of the interior rivers along the Yukon waterways,” said Robb.
Robb says that in the coming term, municipalities like Bethel will have to learn to adapt to a smaller state government footprint as there is less and less money for communities and for operating state programs located here.
“And how are we gonna take up the slack if we can, and how to avoid cost-shifting from the state,” said Robb. "And that’s something that maybe past Councils have not faced.”
Robb says that "the unknown" may be the biggest challenge ahead, and that knowledgeable and agile Council members would be the best equipped to deal with it.