A healthy dose of democracy

by Editorial Board - September 18, 2018

Democracy is alive and well in Yellowknife, as we have contested races for mayor and council seats.

As nominations closed on Monday, there were four people prepared to be our next mayor: Rebecca Alty, Adrian Bell, Jerald Sibbeston and Bob Stewart. That’s twice the number who grabbed for the chains of office in the last municipal election in 2015, when John Himmelman ran an unsuccessful campaign to oust incumbent Mark Heyck.

The Oct. 15 vote will have 16 names on the ballot for city council – one more than in 2015 — with several familiar names in addition to the incumbent councillors. Those seeking to keep their seats on council are: Niels Konge, Shauna Morgan, Julian Morse, Steve Payne and Rommel Silverio.

Those trying again for council are Mark Bogan and Dane Mason. People who weren’t on the 2015 ballot are: Josh Campbell, Edwin Castillo, John Dalton, Chris Gillander, William Gomes, Cynthia Mufandaedza, Stacie Smith, Terry Testart and Robin Williams.

So unless a candidate gets cold feet and withdraws their name by the deadline later today, then Yellowknifers will have the chance to choose a civic leadership they feel will be able to best serve us as we move forward into uncertain economic times, with the prospect of mine closures and few options to replace the lost jobs and wealth.

Tourism holds some promise but this is a city in the embarrassing position of not having a proper welcoming centre for tourists. We also need to find ways to have more things for people to do when they are here, other than staring into our skies at night searching for aurora.

There are also several social issues that need to be addressed, the least of which is housing and poverty. We need some creative solutions – and fast.

The current council and mayor will be leaving us with a record of few major accomplishments. One good deed that was done is the 10-year Plan to End Homelessness. But as that title implies, it will be up to the new council to dig into that plan and wrestle with its $170 million price tag for full implementation.

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The new council also must deal with infrastructure projects – many of which have been kicked down the lane by the current council – including replacing the aging Ruth Inch Memorial Pool.

Looking at the roster of candidates, there are many people who could bring exceptional leadership to city council.

Yellowknifer applauds each and every person who has stepped up for this election. They are fulfilling an important democratic task.

Running for public office is never easy. It places a person and their family under a microscope. Voters should take that into account when they come calling for your vote. We hope each candidate gets treated with respect but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t challenge each other.

Voters want to know what candidates have to say on the issues and what they have to say about what the other candidates have said.

To voters, we encourage you to engage with the candidates as they come knocking on your door.

Tell them your concerns. Demand answers from them. Discuss what they have to say with your friends and family.

And above all, each and every person of voting age should try to make time to vote Oct. 15. It’s both your right – and Yellowknifer believes your obligation – to keep democracy strong.

Democracy only works if people participate – voters and candidates stepping up to the plate.

Good luck to all.