City Mayor Lew Williams III speaks to the Chamber of Commerce.

City Mayor Lew Williams III speaks to the Chamber of Commerce. (KRBD file photo)

City of Ketchikan Mayor Lew Williams III filed Tuesday to run for his third term as mayor of Alaska’s First City.

Williams, who was a longtime City Council member before becoming mayor, said it’s important to him to continue helping the community move forward.

“It’s always been my philosophy: Let’s go forward,” he said. “And there’s still a few things I want to go forward on — from power to telephone, to finishing the hospital.”

The city owns and operates Ketchikan Public Utilities, which provides electricity service to the whole island. KPU also operates a water division that serves most residents within city limits, and an island-wide telecommunications division that competes with private companies.

The city also owns the hospital building, which is undergoing extensive updates. The hospital is operated by PeaceHealth.

Williams said he’s enjoyed his time as mayor, especially serving the public.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the community,” he said. “If it ever gets about me, then I need to get out of there right away. You’re a servant. I take all the phone calls, I try to deal with all the issues. If you’re into service, this is a rewarding job.”

Despite that, Williams said if he wins another term as mayor, it will be his last. He said he wants to see new faces in local government.

“I told everybody the last time I was not going to run after this. I’m going to say it again: I’m not going to run after this,” he said, laughing. “We need some new young people to become involved. We need to work in these next three years to find people interested in local government and the future of this town. It’s almost becoming scary that we’re not finding those people. I encourage people to join in.”

The big challenge facing the city in the near future is a continuing flat economy, with continuing rising costs. Williams said the city has cut pretty much all it can without reducing the current level of service. He said cutting more is an option, but the city should consider all possibilities.

“You have to work with everybody. Everybody has an opinion on what we can do,” he said. “There’s cutting, there’s raising, there’s finding new. One of the big things we’ve been talking about is the tobacco tax, looking at new areas of finding revenue. How is marijuana (legalization) going to affect us? Are we going to open a store and tax that?  That’s another big issue coming up.”

Williams said he’ll wait to see what the local Marijuana Advisory Committee and the State of Alaska come up with before making up his mind about supporting a retail marijuana industry in Ketchikan.

Williams, who is co-owner of the Ketchikan Daily News, is the only candidate running for city mayor so far. Three candidates have filed for two three-year seats on the Ketchikan City Council. They are Sam Bergeron, Spencer Strassburg and incumbent Bob Sivertsen. George Lybrand has filed to run for a one-year seat open on the City Council.

So far, nobody has filed for the two three-year seats open on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly; nor for the three three-year seats open on the Ketchikan School Board.

The local filing period ends Aug. 25.