-- Santa Claus is coming...to the city council.
A 68-year-old man legally named Santa Claus won a write-in campaign for city council of North Pole, Alaska, on a platform that included advocacy for the children of the community of about 2,000 people.
“I’m happy I’m here,” Claus, an independent candidate, told ABC News in a Wednesday interview. “It’s a great community and I’m looking forward to serving it.”
The election was last week and results were announced on Tuesday.
When all the ballots had been counted, Claus had 58 votes, according to the unofficial election results. He and two other candidates had been seeking to fill two vacant seats on the council.
Claus, the former president of the North Pole Chamber of Commerce, said he also wants to work with the council on the town’s budget issues. A cancer patient who uses medical marijuana, Claus has supported the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries in North Pole.
He said he got the idea to change his name when he was living in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and decided to grow out his beard “for fun.” It grew full, soft and white, and people started telling him he should portray Santa Claus at Christmas.
He did, then said he prayed about how to best use his image to benefit child advocacy. Seconds after his finished his prayer, he said a car drove by and a male voice shouted “Santa, I love you!” He started the name change process the following day.
Claus is a Christian monk who has lived in North Pole since 2013. He has previously been an emergency services chaplain, actor and university lecturer.
Unlike his namesake, Claus does not accept requests for presents. He says the greatest gift people can give is love.