PALMER — Local businessman and former Mat-Su Borough Deputy Mayor Matthew Beck has filed to run for Borough Mayor, joining former Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle and current Palmer Mayor Edna DeVries in the race for the seat currently held by Vern Halter, who will term out of office in November.
Beck has six years of recent experience on the Mat-Su Borough Assembly and said that he is running for the office of Borough Mayor from the middle. The Mat-Su Borough will hold elections for Assembly seats, Mat-Su Borough School District School Board seats and for the Borough Mayor’s office on November 5.
“If you’re voting for me, you’re voting for our communities, our ideals, what’s important to us as opposed to a political party. I’m a nonpartisan, registered nonpartisan. I used to be a lifelong Republican and that changed when I saw people in the same party eating one another up rather than rolling up their sleeves and doing the work that needed to be done,” said Beck.
Beck was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and grew up in Montana before attending college in Idaho where he met his wife Teresa, who was born and raised on a hobby farm in Palmer. The Becks live on the hobby farm in Palmer with a variety of animals and co-own North Star Animal Hospital and Pet Resort. Beck earned a Bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1993 from the University of Idaho and a Masters in Pastoral Ministries from Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota in 2001. Beck worked for the catholic church for 26 years from 1994 until 2020.
“I think the fact that we’ve started two businesses here in the Mat-Su with another married couple and those are successful, I think that’s important for people to know and we live on a hobby farm. I think that’s kind of good for people to know,” said Beck. “That’s really my hope is to involve all people from the borough, urban and rural and to be out in the community representing the borough as a whole. It was agriculture that got me started in politics in 2012. We took on the state with regards to some farmland and protecting the new farmland that was being developed by a local farmer and we succeeded there and then the farmers encouraged me to run for Assembly after that and I did and I won and so that’s still kind of at the heart of who I am. It’s many of the local farmers that have encouraged me to run that have really made me want to step up and do that.”
Beck served on the Assembly from 2013 until 2019 with four years as the Deputy Mayor, also serving on a subcommittee with members of the MSBSD School Board. Beck supports development of a University Medical district between Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and Mat-Su College, and opposes the strong mayor form of government measure that was proposed in 2020.
“I think of myself more as a family man and a business person than a politician and I’m a strong proponent of the strong manager form of government, not the strong mayor and I think my style of leadership when I was on the Assembly really demonstrates that I’m a team player,” said Beck. “I think we have an awesome manager in Mike Brown and I would let him lead and my job as the borough Mayor would be to serve as the face of the borough to make sure our interests are front and center in Juneau.”
Beck has one daughter still attending school within MSBSD and two who have graduated already. Beck and his wife have been heavily involved in 4-H and Beck was named to the Board of Directors for the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation in 2021. Beck and his wife moved to Palmer in 2005.
“Nothing has taught us about the importance of food security during our lifetime more than the COVID pandemic has, and people are stepping up and learning how to garden and grow their own vegetables and raise their own livestock,” said Beck. “The farmers are, they make a good living, they make a great living here and we have some of the best soils in the entire country, in north america and so it’s prime for being able to grow.”