Journalist Josh Campbell says if elected to city council, he would be open with media and the public, and hold government to account.
Those are the main reasons why he is entering the municipal race.
Campbell said he was “stonewalled by the mayor” after asking questions about specific bylaw officers who were accused of being rough with members of the public.
“Do we have a bylaw enforcement division or do we have a police department? If we’re going to have a police department then we have to go down a different avenue, look at different funding and training for these people,” said Campbell.
“I want to see that culture of entitlement addressed.”
The host of current affairs show Denendeh Sunrise on CKLB radio, Campbell said he will refrain from covering city hall if elected.
Of course, councillors regularly hold closed-door meetings and deal with matters deemed confidential. When asked how Campbell, who deals in transmitting information to the public, would earn the trust of his fellow councillors, the candidate shrugged his shoulders and said, “We’ll have to see, I guess.”
Campbell has also done public relations for former NDP MP Dennis Bevington, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the Union of Northern Workers and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, among others.
Having lived in the territory for 11 years, Campbell said he is committed to Yellowknife and hopes to be a member of the legislative assembly one day.
The first-time candidate said his vote for mayor will likely go to Kilt and Castle Pub owner Bob Stewart.
“It’s time to hit the reset button on city hall and have some people who are invested,” he said, “instead of these career politicians.”
Financial planner enters the race
Chris Gillander believes his job as a financial planner is his competitive advantage in the race for a seat on city council.
“I could fine tune a lot of the budgeting that city council has to do,” said the first-time candidate.
Gillander, who works for IG Wealth Management, said he would be a quick study on policy matters.
“I’ve always been interested in politics,” he said. “It just seemed time to make that transition to help out.”
Gillander supports the proposed hotel levy and he wants to partner with the territorial government on a new visitor’s centre.
He also believes territorial access to information laws should apply to the municipality, and that the city should improve the process for making complaints against the Municipal Enforcement Division.
At 30, Gillander is so far the youngest candidate on the ballot.
He said now is an opportune time to enter municipal politics.
“I’m young and I don’t have a family yet and I have the time to be doing it,” he said.
“I figure now’s the time to be giving back before I get too busy.”
Former councillor seeks comeback
According to John Dalton, “the citizens have lost faith in council — it’s handling of a variety of issues – and the integrity of council decision-making has been brought into question on several of those things.”
A former councillor himself, Dalton believes city council’s image needs a makeover.
“I believe politics can be an honourable profession … and I don’t see that the councillors themselves have earned the respect of the citizens of Yellowknife,” he said on Tuesday.
“I want to bring some of that integrity back.”
Dalton, who has lived in Yellowknife since 1972 and sat on council “many years ago,” wants to explore ways of attracting businesses to the downtown core.
“We have right now buildings that are empty (and) we’re giving tax exemptions out in Engle but not giving anything substantive in the downtown core,” he said.
Dalton, who said he is self-employed and involved with a storage company, currently sits as a trustee on the Catholic School Board.
Terry Testart, the father of Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart, has also put his name in the race for a seat on council but could not be reached for an interview before Wednesday’s press deadline.
Council gives mayor the vote
The mayor now has a much louder voice on city council.
On Monday, council voted unanimously in favour of an amendment to the Council Procedures Bylaw that allows the mayor to participate in debates and vote on motions without passing the chair to his deputy.
Prior to Monday, the mayor could not speak or vote on a motion without vacating the chair unless there was a tie, in which case the mayor would cast the deciding vote.
Late last month Coun. Adrian Bell stepped down as deputy mayor to ensure he would have a voice during closed-door talks relating to the city’s official inquiry into workplace misconduct at the Municipal Enforcement Division.
Coun. Julian Morse, who sat on the committee that oversaw the changes to council procedures, is strongly in favour of a voting mayor.
He said there was a lack of clarity over when the mayor could step out of the chair and take away the vote of another councillor.
“The mayor should be taking on a stronger leadership role than the position has previously allowed for and the mayor should have a political voice like any councillor,” Morse said on Tuesday.
“Relegating them to chairing meetings doesn’t really acknowledge the leadership role that I think citizens expect him to take on in the community.”
Council voted Monday to appoint councillor Linda Bussey as deputy mayor.
Bussey is not seeking reelection.