It’s been over three decades since Verne Rupright, the Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (the launching pad of Alaska Governor and former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin) left his native North Shore. We caught up with Mayor Rupright in a recent phone interview to discuss his North Shore roots, his aspirations for Wasilla, and memories of home. Guess what Rupright misses the least about our region? “The last time I drove the 128 belt, I said to myself, ‘I have to get the heck of out of here,’” he chuckles.
What Rupright, a 1969 graduate of Saugus High School, does miss is the salty air of Lynn Beach, the old Revere Beach roller coaster and arcades, and the cold water surfing at Nahant Beach, although he is quite enchanted with his home in Wasilla. “Alaska is a whole different place surrounded by mountains and breathtaking panoramic vistas where every day is like a new painting,” he says. However, he also admits, “You do have to get comfortable with cabin fever.”
Rupright, who was born in Lynn, left the North Shore in the mid-seventies in search of prosperity after falling in love The Campaign Trail: Verne Rupright, right, running for mayor in Wasilla, Alaska.
with Alaska while en route to serve in the Air Force in Vietnam. Rupright initially worked on the Alaskan Pipeline, which eventually led to a legal career and, most recently, mayor of Wasilla.
But what of his predecessor? “I think Sarah Palin has been good for Alaska. We’re real people here who have been somewhat forgotten.
We called Palin’s press secretary Bill McAlliser, who reiterated the statement prepared by his office about Palin’s view on the new mayor. “He’s a nice guy and the city is in good hands.”
While Mayor Rupright lives in Wasilla with his wife, Bernadette, and their two daughters, Elizabeth and Charlotte, he likes to return to the North Shore from time to time for what he terms “the four groups” of pizza, lobster, subs, and fried clams. —Stacey Marcus