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E.T. Barnette founded a trading post, and shortly thereafter, gold was discovered, causing an influx of miners to the area. In 1903, residents voted to incorporate the city of Fairbanks, and Barnette became the city’s first mayor. Barnette is classified as one of our forefathers, but he was actually a shady business leader — a scoundrel and embezzler, according to the president of the Washington-Alaska Bank. Despite these questionable dealings, schools and streets in Fairbanks were named after Barnette. Though Barnette is a part of Fairbanks history, he did not embody the kind of qualities a valued leader must possess to effectively represent his or her community fairly. We as constituents must learn to hold our leaders accountable to put the needs of Fairbanks first.
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