Decisions start to roll in for fall election

by Avery Zingel - May 10, 2018

Ahead of Yellowknife’s fall municipal elections, councillors and prospective mayors are throwing their names into the hat.

City council at the start of their term in 2015: From left are Adrian Bell, Steve Payne, Niels Konge, Linda Bussey, Mayor Mark Heyck, Rebecca Alty, Julian Morse, Shauna Morgan, and Rommel Silverio.
NNSL file photo

Coun. Rebecca Alty and deputy mayor Adrian Bell, both two-term councillors, have announced their mayoral aspirations.

On Thursday, Coun. Adrian Bell announced that he wants to be Yellowknife’s next mayor.

Bell’s key mandates include “establishing a culture of accountability and transparency at city hall, strengthening and diversifying our economy, reducing the cost of living and of doing business in Yellowknife.”

“I’m very passionate about municipal issues. I have been for a very long time and it has been a very fulfilling working as city councillor since 2012 and deputy mayor since 2016,” he told Yellowknifer in an interview.

In the face of economic challenges in the NWT and Yellowknife, Bell said he is “increasingly concerned about challenges looming on the horizon.”

With the impending closure of diamond mines and recent announcements that territorial and federal funding for the Slave Geological Province fell flat, the city has potential the be a hub for resilience, said Bell.

“Those type of indications keep me up at night with concern about the economy,” said Bell. “It becomes increasingly important for us to have leaders and a mayor with a strong determination to achieve a better brighter future for residents.”

In the 2015 election, Alty received 3,837 votes while Bell received 3,573.

Councillors Shauna Morgan, Julian Morse, and Steve Payne have all announced they will be return candidates.

It’s unclear whether councillors Rommel Silverio and Niels Konge will run for another term.

Konge has said he won’t reveal whether he’s seeking a second term until closer to the actual nomination date.

“I’m keeping my options open,” said Konge. In 2015, he ran on a platform focused on lands and planning. That review was conducted but has not been implemented yet.

“I’m hoping that will get done,” he said.

The first term was a “learning experience,” said Coun. Payne. “I’ve loved being able to serve the people of Yellowknife and I want to keep doing it. Right now my intentions are to run and I’m going to working to get a platform together.”

Payne, making an endorsement for Bell, said, “I think he’s a good person for the job.”

He hinted that his platform could include helping the homeless population and improving the city’s economy.

Alty, who announced last week, outlined her vision for the city if elected mayor in a recent interview with Yellowknifer.

“After six years I want to become more involved with the development and really see Yellowknife be the best place to live, work and visit,” said Alty.

Council progress on its different files should be tracked, she said, adding that she will work to bring the city’s 10-year homelessness plan to fruition.

She also plans to support and build council’s relationship with senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellet, she said.

As for councillors seeking another term, Morgan said she is seeking re-election to “continue momentum” on the city’s energy and sustainability files and implementation of the 10-year community energy plan.

“I’m determined to support the continued strengthening and accountability of our city administration,” said Morgan.

Morse is running again he has “more to accomplish.”

If elected, Morse said he would advance projects with the heritage committee, economic development initiatives and the university feasibility study.

“For me, I really want to ensure Yellowknife has a prosperous future,” he said. “I think the city needs to focus more on economic development than it has in the past. It really matters to me and that’s why I ran.”

Coun. Linda Bussey will not seek re-election in October, and was proud of her achievements in office, she said.

“My plans right now are to move into a new job and it’s going to demand a lot. I ran on a platform to do some work with the homeless and I think I met my goals,” she said.

“I think what I stood for, I reached. I’m ready to go into the next chapter of my life.”

Before Bussey finishes her term, she plans to continue work to bring the GNWT “up to the plate” for social initiatives on homelessness.

“I think its time the GNWT injects money in it,” said Bussey. “We’ve taken on social issues and we don’t have a social issues department.”

Mayor Mark Heyck announced in February that he would not seek re-election as Mayor, in a Facebook post.

“It has been an absolute honour and a privilege to serve the people of Yellowknife for the past decade and a half,” he wrote. “My children were born during my first term as a city councillor and I’ve been an elected official their entire lives. I am stepping back from politics and I’m eager to spend more time with my family over the next few years.”

Candidates for the fall municipal election can be officially nominated between Aug. 31 and Sept. 17.