Craig Simailak is hoping he can be a voice for the people of Baker Lake after he was acclaimed as MLA on July 24.
“People tell me that I am not afraid to speak up about issues that need to be spoken up about,” he said.
Simailak was the only candidate to seek office in the lead up to the byelection to replace Simeon Mikkungwak, who announced his resignation as Baker Lake’s MLA on Feb. 24 due to family reasons.
In an interview with Kivalliq News, Simailak said he was shocked to find out no one decided to run against him.
“I was a bit surprised,” he said. “I was happy of course but mainly surprised.”
The nomination period to replace Mikkungwak was originally supposed to open in March with the byelection scheduled for April 27. However, the dates were pushed back due to concerns over Covid-19.
Simailak said he has considered running for MLA for a while. It wasn’t until the opportunity to replace Mikkungwak came up that he decided to step forward.
“People have been asking me for a few years now to run as MLA or mayor,” he said.
Simailak’s experience in elected office includes three terms as a hamlet councillor and another two as a member of the local housing board. He has also worked with Qulliq Energy for the past 20 years, most recently as a purchasing clerk.
“People have always approached me when issues come up, when something needed looking into,” he said. “They believed in me.”
Simailak, whose father David Simailak served as finance minister from 2005 until he was forced to step down in 2007 for failing to publicly disclose his business interests, will have just 15 months in office until the next election. Among the issues he hopes to focus on are public housing, education and elders care.
“We haven’t had any new housing units for years now,” he said, adding that he would like to see old units in Baker Lake renovated as well.
As for education, he wants increased trades training in high schools. He also plans to push for better facilities for elders.
“Baker Lake has always been known to have a big population of elders,” he said. “We used to have 24-hour palliative care but that was taken away a few years ago.”
Simailak has been in contact with the legislative assembly since being acclaimed and he’s currently scheduled to head to Iqaluit for the next sitting in August or September.
He said he’s not sure whether he’ll consider running again once his short term expires.
“There’s only 15 months in my term so I’m not trying to over reach,” he said. “I’m trying to keep it simple.”