Kevin O’Reilly, incumbent MLA for Frame lake said he transitioned fairly smoothly after the legislative session, adding that the first full week of campaigning was quite active.
“It was very busy,” he said. “We spent a lot of time knocking on doors and getting signs up and the usual campaign beginnings. I’m looking forward to the race.”
O’Reilly said he has a small core group of volunteers that helped his inaugural campaign in 2015 who are returning with a few additional people as well this time around. Similar to last election, he opened a campaign office in the upper level of Centre Square Mall to allow people to drop in to pick up signs or drop off cheques or mingle.
Campaigning began Sept. 3 and as of Monday this week, he had reached about 330 homes.
Other than his central campaign office, O’Reilly is using various communications to get his message across, including billboard signs in and around the electoral district, as well as social media with a Kevin O’Reilly for MLA Frame Lake Facebook account, as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts.
He said as an incumbent and as a longtime resident of the Frame Lake district, he is comfortable campaigning door-to-door and discussing his last term and issues that are important to residents.
He said he has generally been getting a positive response from the doors he has knocked, but has heard a wide variety of issues from things like midwifery service to staffing and servicing needs at the new hospital to city-related issues. People are glad there is a new hospital and an expansion to Ecole Allain St-Cyr as well, he added.
“There are some concerns of cost of living and issues of economic diversification but I also sense people are quite happy with the job I’ve done as an MLA for the last four years and how I’ve stayed in touch with them,” he said.
“I have heard some concern about the economy but that is certainly not the dominant message that I’m hearing at the door.”
O’Reilly has held two public events to date which have included the opening of the campaign office Thursday evening, as well as a Northland Community Potluck on Sunday.
Dave Ramsay is the challenging candidate and he is hoping to make a comeback as a territorial MLA after losing Kam Lake to Kieron Testart in 2015.
Ramsay began door-knocking early last week and continued into the weekend. He said while Frame Lake is the district for him, Kam Lake’s borders where he served from 2003 to 2015 now stretch into what is now Frame Lake, so he was happy to reconnect with former constituents.
“I have about 1,000 doors to cover and my goal is to get to everybody and so far, so good,” he said, adding on Monday that he was about 30 percent of the way through the door-knocking goal.
He said he has heard already at the doors people expressing common concerns including cost of living, the future of the NWT territory with diamond mines closing, education and house property values.
“There are a lot of homeowners in the district and they are very, very scared of declining property values in the city and impending mine closures and what we are going to do next. That is something we really need to concentrate on after Oct. 1.”
Still, he said he sees a lot of potential for development, particularly in mining for the green economy for electric car batters and he is optimistic despite uncertainty among residents.
Ramsay said he has some volunteers helping with signage, but most of his help is a family-oriented effort, he said.
“My wife is my biggest supporter so she has been helpful and I have some people working on signs and my official agent has been great,” he said.
“It is a real family effort and my two oldest boys knocking on doors with me this week and I’m taking them around and showing them about being involved in the community and talking about the issues.”
Ramsay said he is “a continued champion of the NWT” but is also focusing his message on getting voters out to the polls.
“My goal is to make sure people know what the voting opportunities are and that they have to get out to vote. I have had some experience of what happens when people don’t show up to vote, like in 2015, where we had 24 per cent show up in Kam Lake. It was the worst in the territory.”
Ramsay has some billboard signs in and around the district and is promoting his campaign message through social media, including a Facebook page called Dave Ramsay – Elect for MLA Frame Lake and his website DaveRamsay4mlaframe.ca.
Ramsay said his campaign will focus heavily on door-knocking, however residents can watch for a Family Fun Day type of event to meet the candidate in the coming weeks.