“Yellowknife is in my blood,” said Payne when asked by Yellowknifer why residents should elect him to a second term. “People come to me with issues and I bring them forward.”
Payne is a partner at Ragged Ass Barbers and teaches hairdressing at St. Patrick’s High School.
When Payne campaigned for the first time in 2015, he hung around Walmart, Canadian Tire and the Yellowknife Co-op, and “talked to everybody.”
He spoke of his desire to fight homelessness and make day-to-day life in Yellowknife more affordable, he said.
But after winning a seat on council, Payne realized, “those are pretty tough topics to take on.”
Now he understands that getting things done at city hall is about working as a team.
Despite some public feuding between his colleagues (last fall Mayor Mark Heyck and councillor Niels Konge each accused the other of bullying in a dispute that ended with Konge receiving a public censure) councillors are getting along and respecting each other for the most part, he said.
The most challenging issue council has dealt with over the last few years, he said, has been launching an inquiry into workplace misconduct at the Municipal Enforcement Division.
“It’s been tough, it’s never an easy thing to do and that played on my mind quite a bit,” said Payne. “Trying to maintain a certain amount of people’s privacy – there’s lots of different levels to this – and trying to get it done as professionally as possible,” has been difficult, he added.
Last November, the city’s director of Corporate Services, said property tax increases in the future will be necessary in order to keep city programs and infrastructure in good working order.
Payne believes the next council will be able to keep any tax increase to a minimum.
“Are we always going to have zero tax increases? No. We adjust our spending,” he said.