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Mayor Jim McDonald ready for change after 12 years on council

Inuvik Mayor Jim McDonald chose not to toss his hat in the ring for the municipal election for the first time in 12 years.

After serving on the Inuvik Town Council for 12 years, current mayor Jim McDonald has decided to retire from municipal politics.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

He said his decision to step down was made much like his decision to run four terms ago – spontaneously, and with his wife, Denise McDonald's support.

"I really considered running again, but I want to slow down a bit. My wife, Denise, encouraged me to slow down and not run again this term," he said.

"It was originally a spur of the moment decision to run," that first term, he said. "Someone called me a few hours before nominations closed and asked me to run, so I called Denise, who helped me get the nomination papers together and submitted just before closing time. I wasn't really planning on running, but here I am, 12 years later!"

McDonald spent three years as mayor and nine as a town councillor.

"I certainly enjoyed being the mayor of Inuvik. It kept me really busy at times, but I enjoy that too," he said. "I hope I'll be able to slow down a bit, but I still have lots to do with my business. I'll still be fairly active in the community, just not in an official role anymore. I'm not going anywhere, I love Inuvik."

McDonald said during his time on council, he never had an agenda, he just wanted to serve the community.

One of council's stand-out accomplishments to him is the completion of the new water treatment plant.

"I'm glad we got to get the water treatment plant together, that was a big accomplishment for me and council. It was one of the things in my original platform, because at the time we were still operating on Inuvik's original system," he said. "It's complete now, and it should serve the community for the next 50, 60 years."

The water treatment plant was the biggest project the town has ever undertaken, costing approximately $19 million dollars when it was completed in November 2016.

"It was a lot for a community of our size, but it was an important investment," he said. "People don't really think about it, so long as the water comes out clear when they turn their taps on, but it was very important."

McDonald reflected on one of his saddest memories while on town council.

"We lost one of our councillors here, Terry Halifax. He served many years on council here, but his passing was a bit difficult because it was such a sudden thing. He passed away right after a council meeting, just outside the office," said McDonald. "It was shocking, because I was actually talking to him when he passed away."

McDonald said he worked with Halifax on many issues, such as considering nuclear reactors as an energy supply for the town.

"That was a very sad time in my term. Terry and I, we didn't always agree on things, but we could always leave the meetings and chat. We were friends," he said.

McDonald said he wishes he could have found a solution to the depleting Ikhil gas well, but he said he is confident the next council will be able to continue the work that has been done and find an appropriate solution.

He added that although his official work and governing was important work, connecting with the community was equally as important and rewarding.

"As an elected official, you need to be part of the community, that's very important. You need to be visible in the community, especially when you're the mayor, and meet people and engage with people," he said. "I have no regrets, but that's the part I'm going to miss most."