A man with a soft white beard who prides himself on being an advocate for young children has been elected as a city councilman in North Pole, Alaska.
The rosy-cheeked 68-year-old candidate, who happens to be named Santa Claus, won a three-year term in the community of about 2,200 residents south east of Fairbanks, according to election results released on Tuesday (13 October).
"I'm fairly well known. I think people are pleased with it. We'll see. Time will tell. I have three years to make a positive impression so hopefully I will get off on the right foot later this month," Claus said.
Claus, who legally changed his name from Thomas Patrick O'Connor about a decade ago while living in Nevada, said he has been an advocate for legislation and services that benefit at-risk children. He could be seen in recent days wearing his trademark red velvet outfit and holding a campaign sign in North Pole, the namesake of the home of the legendary Christmas gift-giver. Claus was one of two write-in candidates for two vacant seats in the 6 October election.
"I'd like to keep accomplishing as much as I can on behalf of children, especially vulnerable children in dire straits. So I'm trying to use my time wisely and use it to benefit as many children as I possibly can," he said about his goal on the job.
Claus said his naughty and nice lists may come in handy in this new job. "Particularly in politics I find it kind of tempting to categorise people and place them on one list or another," Claus said.
He also said children don't have to worry that he won't have time to get presents ready for Christmas, joking, "Fortunately the elves can do most of that. They're pretty good at it. They've been around for a long, long time."
He will take office on 26 October, North Pole City Clerk Kathy Weber said.