Candidates running for the Oct. 18 town council election are off to the races as nominations to file for candidacy closed Sept. 20.

This is the second batch of candidate profiles that we have been able to compile. The profiles of Karen Wall, Robert Bouchard, Kim Brockway, and Brian Willows ran in the Sept. 29 edition.

Seven council positions are open with 10 people in the race.

Incumbents running for reelection include Robert Bouchard, Brian Willows, Jeff Groenewegen, Emily Chambers, Keith Dohey, and Linda Duford.

Kimberly Brockway, Peter Magill, Karen Wall, and Keanan Kipling are also hoping to join council.

South Slave District education authority candidates are all acclaimed and will include Nikki Ashton, Glen McPhee, Pennie Pokiak, Annette Rupert and Mark Harris.

Advance polls take place Oct. 5.

Peter Magill

Time in Hay River: Nine years

Experience relevant to the job: I have worked for the Town of Hay River for four years as the Tourism & Economic Development Coordinator.

I am community minded, and committed to promoting and improving our community and region. I am a homeowner and taxpayer.

I have actively contributed to committees, written numerous successful funding proposals, helped arrange and host multiple public events, and I am an active member of several non-profits and Rotary in the community.

Why are you running? Hay River is the second largest community in the Northwest Territories, geographically located as the Hub of the North, and is poised to grow in the coming years. I hope to work with a dynamic team to help Hay River grow sustainably and prosperously into the future.

Biggest challenges facing the community: Affordable housing, retaining our senior citizens, employment, reducing our cost of living, growth of industry, business and service providers, increasing taxes, and infrastructure repairs and improvement.

Jeff Groenewegen

Age: 38

Family Status: I have been married to my lovely wife Kandace for 18 years and we have two sons and a daughter. Grayson (14), Hunter (12), and Avery (11).

Time in Hay River: Born and raised here, Hay River has always been my home.

Experience relevant to the job: I have served on the council for the past three years.

Why are you running? I want to continue serving as a representative for the community and work to improve conditions in the town for everyone who calls Hay River home.

Biggest challenges facing the community: The landfill and water treatment plant are both under consideration at this time. There are also a number of underground utilities, and road surfaces.

Climate change is also a factor with high water levels negatively impacting many of our residents.

The cost of undertaking these projects is substantial and only magnified by the fact that our community is underfunded.

Now more than ever the town council will have to work collaboratively with all levels of government to accomplish solutions for these challenges.

Keanan Kipling

Age: 31

Family Status: Married to my wonderful wife Ashilynn, we have two children. Son Nikhlin(10) and daughter Emrys(7).

Time in Hay River: Born and raised, other than one semester of college and eight times at trade school I have lived here in Hay River my entire life. The north is a beautiful place with really great people. Growing up and raising a family here has been a remarkable experience and I hope that my children get as much or more out of it as I have.

Experience relevant to the job: With this being my first attempt to enter the political sphere, my experience is very minimal. That being said I have done work for and know many members of the community, this along with my life experience here in Hay River gives me the confidence that I will be able to fulfill the job as a town council member. I have always been interested in politics and I am looking forward to the experience that this opportunity will give me.

Why are you running? I am running for town council because I love my town and the people in it. This is our home and anything I can do to help make it better and hopefully a more affordable place is very important to me. I also think that adding a fresh voice for the people of Hay River is never a bad thing and some would say is needed.

Biggest challenges facing the community: The absolute biggest challenge facing Hay River right now is housing, which was exacerbated by the shut down of the Highrise (another issue in itself) as well as Hay River housing houses being removed and not yet replaced. Other challenges facing the community are infrastructure, Vale Island flooding, access to quality public fitness, and cost of living which is driving people out of town and is not very encouraging for new people and families to stay here in Hay River.

Name: Keith Dohey

Age: 32

Family Status. Brand new Dad and luckiest guy on Earth.

Time in Hay River: Born and raised in Hay River.

Experience Relevant to the job: I’ve spent the past three terms on council. In my role as councillor I’ve served on many different committees and roles, most recently as Chair of the Policy Committee, Liaison for the Recreation Committee and Liaison for Youth. Outside of council I am the current president of the Hay River Curling Club and Lobsterfest, I was chair of the fundraising committee for the 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games. I’ve been an assistant and head coach for Hay River Minor Hockey in the past (and likely the future). I’ve spent the last ten years working for my uncle at a small business that has been operated locally by my family for nearly 60 years. I’m heavily involved in the community and a very active volunteer. I have a strong understanding of the issues facing us and a realistic, common-sense based approach to addressing them.

Why are you running? I’m running again because I believe there needs to be continuity at the council level as the town moves forward on projects. The power utility franchise transition for example should happen this term. I believe it’s important that we have a council with a history and understanding of that major process as it continues. I believe the priorities set by council in the strategic and capital plans are focused in the right directions and based on the reality of our financial position. Many of these projects and priorities were identified while I’ve been on council and I want to be there to see them through. I’m very passionate about our community, I’m invested in our community, I’m raising my family in Hay River. I want the best future for our community possible. I believe with my relevant experience and my passion for our community I’m in a good fit to serve our community for the next three years.

Biggest challenge(s) facing the community? From a council perspective the biggest challenge are probably funding and lands issues. The Town of Hay River, along with the other tax based communities are and have been chronically underfunded. The GNWT knows this, has admitted this, and has done very little to address this. The longer it continues the further behind we get. This impacts our ability to fund projects and transfers a higher burden to our local taxpayers, we have far more projects that need to be done than available financial resources. Many of the issues Hay River has could be addressed if we were funded properly, that not being the case creates the challenge of prioritizing spending that maximizes the use of local tax dollars through grants and other funding programs. It’s very seldom as easy as earmarking money in the budget for certain projects this way.

Another major issue is land. We have very little of our own to develop and have not had much luck acquiring new lands while there is a land claims process ongoing. These are issues that although we can fight for, and have been fighting for, they are ultimately out of our hands. We need to keep advocating for a solution to those issues but we can’t stop moving forward because of them. We need to continue to maximize what we can do with the resources we have available.

Social issues are a major challenge. Homelessness/under-housing coupled with addictions and other mental health issues are putting a major strain on systems that are not set up to deal with these issues properly, including our ambulance service and the local health authority. The town doesn’t have the mandate nor the resources to deal with these issues on its own. But we do have a role to play as an advocate and a partner. I know work has been ongoing but I believe we need a committee or a working group of some sort with the right partners involved to really make meaningful strides in this area.

District Education Authority

Annette Rupert

Age: 42

Family Status: Married with 2 children

Time in Hay River: 14 years

Experience relevant to the job: I have two children in the education system, I’ve served one term on the board, and I’m an active member of the community.

Why are you running? Keep working with our amazing principals to allow our children to get the best possible education in a safe and positive environment. The funding formula is something that I am still learning and do not fully understand, Working with the SSDEC and the ECE to update this formula to allow for improvements in our education system would be a huge accomplishment.

Biggest Challenges facing the school district: The formula funding is outdated and does not allocate funding or match up with what each school division requires.

Bussing – being underfunded each year and expected to take funds from the schools to cover the difference.

Pennie Pokiak

Age: 42

Family status: Married, two children

Time in Hay River: 34 years

Experience relevant to the job: serving my third or fourth term.

Why are you running? So that we can continue to advocate for the students in Hay River and hopefully continue to break down the barriers that ultimately negatively impact the schools.

Biggest challenges facing the schools/school district: Biggest challenge facing the schools is under funding and lack of accountability of our government.

Nikki Ashton

Age: 39

Family status: Married with two daughters, one attending PA School and the other at DJSS

Time in Hay River: Born and raised, minus my secondary education at the University of Alberta. I love this community so when I completed my degree I knew exactly where I needed to be to create a future and raise a family.

Experience relevant to the job: I have been a committed board member for three terms and have had the privilege to work with many great board members, and amazing compassionate educators, that are truly there for all of our children.

Why are you running? I hope that our current board can keep working to make sure our kids are getting the best education that they can get, which means standing up for our community, and other schools in our region, to get more funding. The formula funding hasn’t changed in years, and it is time! Sometimes our decisions are very difficult ones, but I can assure you they are made with every child’s education is at the forefront of our minds and hearts.

Glen McPhee

Age: 41 years old

Family status: Married with three girls. Our oldest is in her third year of university, our middle child is in Grade 10 and our youngest is in grade 6. Time in Hay River: Hay River has been our home since 2007.

Experience related to the job: My wife is a school teacher and I work at the hospital in the Quality and Risk Department.

Why are you running or what are you hoping to achieve? I have decided to put my name forward for a second term with the DEA to give back to our community and advocate on behalf of the students, parents, teachers and administration. I am looking forward to continue to work through some of the difficult challenges facing our schools presently.

Biggest challenges facing the school district: A few that are top of mind are ensuring we continue to hire excellent teachers. We have some of the best teachers in the country, but unfortunately Covid continues to be a challenge. I am hoping this term we can find a funding solution to secure busing for our students.

Mark Harris

Age: 51

Family status: Married with two children attending DJSS

Experience relevant to the job: I have sat the last two terms as a member of the Hay River District Education Authority and most recent term I was acting Chairperson

Why are you running? To continue advocating for the students, teachers and community to further enhance our ability to provide a positive education experience.

Biggest challenges facing the schools/school district: Aside from COVID and the various restrictions being dealt with, the struggle continues to be a lack of funding. The gap in funds allocated versus our actual costs need to change. We are currently advocating for change to the formula funding system in place and will continue with this until we see a positive change.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.