So, this is the year. You’ve decided to stop sitting on the fence and take the bull by the horns. You’re going to take your strong opinions and turn them into strong policies.
You’re going to run for office.
If this sounds like you, first you’re going to need to get a few things in order. Nomination packages for mayor, councillor and district education authority board membership are now available on the town’s website and will remain until nominations close on Sept. 20 at 3 p.m.
Outgoing Mayor Natasha Kulikowski said councillors should expect to put in a minimum average of 10 to 20 hours per month to keep up with council packages at meetings, but could put in more time depending on how committed they are to the position. Holding the Mayor’s seat of Inuvik is a full-time job, sometimes with a great deal of overtime.
“You have to love your community. That’s number one,” she said, noting that during the Arctic Development Expo she was on the job from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. “Your schedule is not necessarily a 9-to-5 job. You’ve basically got to be ready to roll out the welcome mat at any given time, whether there’s international dignitaries coming in, or the GNWT —you’re the face of the community.”
Being able to work with others in a team and listen to their concerns are also a must, she noted. Town Council makes decisions by way of a vote, with the Mayor only voting when the vote is tied. Kulikowski recommended going through the town’s website to get a grasp of all the programs the town operates.
Kulikowski added being mayor meant writing a lot of letters of support for local initiatives and giving speeches — she said she’s easily given hundreds of speeches in her term.
Elected officials are committing to a three-year term, which begins Nov. 1. During the term, they are expected to attend regular and committee of the whole meetings, which is typically four meetings a month. On top of that, should other committees be established, councillors are also expected to sit on those and contribute their time.
Councillors are also on call to attend conferences, conventions, seminars or workshops for professional development or to understand key decisions. Councillors will also be expected to represent the town at functions and events throughout the term, attend budget presentations and council orientation.
The mayor works with the Senior Administrative Officer to deal with the day-to-day operations of the town. Kulikowski noted being mayor allowed her to learn a great deal of how Inuvik runs under the hood.
“Pre-Covid-19 times, as mayor I was able to ask for tours all over town,” she said. “I was able to get tours of Northwest Territories Power Corporation, the water treatment plant and wherever it was to get an understanding of how the town works.
“As the mayor, your ears are always open. You’re hearing what folks are saying about projects, ideas they have, all those types of things.”
Forms must be filled out in front of a Notary Public, a Commissioner of Oaths for the NWT or either the Returning or Deputy Returning Officers. You also will need two eligible voters to nominate you.
So long as you are a Canadian citizen, are at least 18 years old and have been a resident of Inuvik for at least a year, you are eligible to run for office, with a few key exceptions. Anyone serving as a judge, already holding office in the Legislative Assembly, currently employed in the town (or employed by a school or the DEA in the case of those running for DEA) or currently working as an election officer is barred from seeking office.
Other factors that could prevent you from running is if you happen to be the town’s auditor, or you have owed the town $500 or more for at least 90 days, either personally or through a corporate interest. If you’re behind on your taxes, you also can’t run. Finally, if you’ve been imprisoned for at least five years within the last three years, or have previously been convicted for breaking any of the above rules, you also are barred from running. The rules apply to Mayor, Council and the DEA positions.
Election Day is Oct. 18.