The owner of a martial arts studio announced his candidacy to represent Ward 1 on the nonpartisan Casper City Council.

Gabriel "Gabe" Phillips wasn't interested in running for office, but he's fed up with dysfunctional government on a local and national level, he said.

He cited the current gridlock on city council over the fate of council member Craig Hedquist, and believes many of the problems go back to City Manager John Patterson. One of his first goals with council would be to fire Patterson, he said.

Phillips, 37, graduated from Natrona county High School in 1995 and attended Casper College. He owns the Aikido of Casper school for martial arts in the downtown area. He  has worked in restaurants for the past 20 years, and now works at J's Pub in west Casper.

Businesses should not be hampered by a city smoking ban, he said. He hates cigarette smoke, but said a business should have the right to decide whether it wants to cater to smokers, he said.

Phillips also opposes a convention center, because the city should repair its infrastructure with its money, he said. "Have you seen the roads?"

He also fears the national economy may collapse, and says Casper should prepare by investing in gold and other precious metals.