NORTH POLE, Alaska - The city of North Pole, Alaska recently celebrated the re-election of its longtime local politician and world peace advocate, Santa Claus, who has just secured his seat on the city council for the next three years.
Long before he changed his name to Santa Claus, the former special assistant deputy police commissioner for New York City found he had a way with calming people, especially when he worked as a first responder.
Claus, 72, said ever since working in law enforcement, he noticed how children would “fall through the cracks” whether through neglect or in abusive situations. Claus said helping children was always a huge part of the platform that later helped him get a seat on North Pole’s city council.
A longtime Christian monk and member of the Order of Anam Cara, which has its origins in Celtic tradition and translates to “soul friend,” Claus found himself living in Lake Tahoe in the early 2000s, which was roughly when he decided to grow out his beard which “came out light,” he said.
As his beard grew, so did the suggestions from friends that he “do the Santa thing,” as he put it, which eventually led him to volunteer for about 30 different non-profit organizations.
One February, he said, “I was walking on a crisp cold day up in the mountains and I was praying as monks tend to do, saying, ‘What should I do with this appearance? Should I change my name? Should I work solely with children?’”
He went on to say that right at that moment as he was asking for guidance from the ether, someone drove by and screamed “Santa! I love you!”
“That was the answer to my prayer,” said Claus, who promptly called up the county clerk and legally changed his name to Santa Claus.
He said he would use the newfound title to call up senators and governors to support legislation for child health safety and welfare. Though he said he was met with success in his efforts, he believed calling up a government official and saying, “Hey, this is Santa Claus from Lake Tahoe,” just didn’t have the right ring to it.
So, after some diligent research, he moved to North Pole, Alaska.
“When I moved up here I figured a lot of issues were affecting children directly and indirectly the way that politics were going at the state level,” said Claus.
He said he became more engaged in the local politics of the area, volunteering and eventually securing his first seat on the North Pole’s City Council back in 2015 as a write-in ballot, where he served for three years and was just reelected to continue spreading his mission.
Claus said in the first election in 2015, there were no candidates for the city council, leading him to launch his write-in campaign with a recognizable name to aid his efforts.
Claus was re-elected on Oct. 1, securing his seat on the council for three more years with 100 votes, which he said is a good turnout for the tiny community of North Pole.
Claus, who will be 75 when his second term is up, feels it’s a sufficient amount of time for his community service and says he no longer has any further ambitions in local politics after his term is up.
Reflecting on his time helping his community, he said he just wants to help share the spirit of Christmas the way he believes it was originally intended.
“The spirit of Christmas embodies love: love in God, loving one another and expressing forgiveness, and protecting children,” said Claus.
As Claus gets ready for a busy second term on the city council, he added that he discourages receiving Santa letters, saying that he would rather spend his time lobbying with other politicians to “do the right thing for child health safety and welfare.”