Four vie for Iqaluit mayorRoads, development and harbour a few of the issues under debate
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Four candidates are on the ballot, three of whom have experience in politics whether at the municipal level and or with Inuit organizations and one who is heavily involved in community activities.
Each candidate has a different agenda and ideas as to how they could improve the city if they were elected mayor.
Advance polls took place Nov. 29 at the Cadet Hall.
On voting day, polling stations will be at the Cadet Hall and the Abe Okpik Hall in Apex.
A former city councillor from 2006 to 2009 and deputy mayor, Al Hayward said he misses being involved in the community in that respect. Since being on council, he is now a father and the Iqaluit resident of almost nine years has some ideas as to how to make improvements for the city's residents. He said this begins at city hall.
"The biggest challenge and priority is making sure both council and staff have a clear and open communication and attracting and retaining quality staff members," said Hayward.
He said employee retention is key and having staff that want to make a contribution, are talented and are truly committed to the community's success. This means he said the city has to offer competitive wages.
When it comes to the recreation complex, Hayward said the consultation has to stop.
"This has been consulted too many ways and numerous times over the years and for the amount of money we have spent on consultation we could have had half a complex by now," he said.
His solution is to partner with the Government of Nunavut to get the project up and running. The process could be expedited, he said, if there were a staff person dedicated to looking for alternate funding sources than the government such as grants and contributions.
Getting the city a plan for land usage also tops his list of priorities.
"Our lands and planning department needs to re-evaluate how we're going to grow and where we're going to grow," he said.
Also on his agenda is getting more infrastructure needs for the city and improving or finding a solution to solve the problems at the dump.
Hayward said the fact there are four candidates, unlike in the last mayoral election in 2009 where there were only two candidates, shows promise.
"The opportunity is there for people to get involved in making this a wonderful capital city," he said.
Paul Kaludjak said he wants to take his experience of 20-plus years in politics and use it to his advantage in his campaign for mayor.
"I have the experience I believe and I can carry it through," he said.
The former Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president and mayor of Rankin Inlet from 1990 to 1994 has a vision for the city which includes getting a new deep water port, addressing the housing crisis and improving roads in Apex.
As an avid boater who is recovering from an accident after his boat ran into a buoy, getting a deep water port is an issue he said is personal and dear to him.
"We don't have very good boating access, services for launching and docking facilities," he said.
To tackle this, he said the new mayor will have to keep the pressure on and lobby both the territorial and federal governments.
Having lived in the city for the last six or seven years, he said he has seen an increase in homelessness. Kaludjak said he will work to ensure those in need have adequate housing.
When it comes to Apex, the mayoral candidate said it needs more attention. He wants to improve the roads and services.
"It seems to be neglected on many occasions," he said.
With the city growing, Kaludjak said there must be green spaces kept open for the public, especially elders, to enjoy in the warmer months.
At the end of October, he was let go from NTI for racking up nearly $52,000 on a corporate credit card in what NTI determined to be questionable charges. With this still potentially fresh in voters' minds, Kaludjak said he wants to put the past behind him.
"As leaders you are under the microscope all the time. Whatever you do will be followed and I thought we could resolve the issue easily," he said.
He speaks English and Inuktitut which Kaludjak said is vital for the position.
"I look forward to meeting people and talking about issues."
After being defeated by Sheutiapik in the mayoral election in 2009, Jim Little is up for the challenge and is ready to run again for the city's top job.
As a councillor from 2006 to 2009, Little said he was proud and honoured to be elected representing the people.
He said, then and now, he feels council members are not thoroughly discussing matters.
"There was such a discrepancy in how I felt things should be and how they actually are and that is why I have chosen to run again," Little said.
Since moving to the city in the early 1990s, he said he has seen the city grow and knows that it will continue to do so.
If elected mayor, Little said he plans to take a team approach when making decisions.
"To me the best decisions possible are always made by a group of people sitting around talking about the issues thoroughly."
On a long wish list of things he would like to see done is getting the recreation facility built and up and running. He said it should include a swimming pool, all city offices should be attached and be built on one level allowing easy access for all residents.
With a lack of large spaces for public events, he said the Arctic Winter Games Arena needs to get an insulated hardwood cover that can put on for events such as sporting tournaments, trade shows and funerals. If a sound system were to be installed, it could also be used for concerts.
When it comes to how he city handles its waste, Little, who for the last 10 years has supported composting, said it could be done in the city.
Looking at the city's harbour, he said the city has no control over the buoy but if elected he would lobby to ensure the situation is rectified.
Little does not support a deep water port.
"It should be dropped, it has no economic benefit for the community," he said.
Instead he thinks the hunter and trappers organization should be consulted to see what they need.
A lot of Little's concerns focus on the cost of things like the posts on the main roads, the development of the cemetery and the quarry.
If elected mayor, Madeleine Redfern said she would like to continue the work Sheutiapik and the current council have been doing.
"It is important for the person who comes in to know where the council and the previous mayor are at with the priorities they had set at the beginning of this term," said Redfern.
She was born and raised in Iqaluit and was most recently the executive director of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission.
Redfern said she would like to maintain the relationships Sheutiapik established and build others.
Now, Redfern said, it is time to get some commitments and buy-ins.
One of her focuses is getting more infrastructure – getting the road paving finished, updating Qulliq Energy's power plant and the dump. Redfern said the city is going to be outgrowing such facilities if it hasn't already.
As far as getting a second cemetery, she said there are still a lot of decisions that need to be made.
"If I'm elected I would be working with the council, with the city and with the community to try and get some of these issues resolved and follow through on a plan," she said.
An avid community volunteer, Redfern said her skill set lies in being able to understand all the various stakeholders and partners.
One partner she said the city should be working with more is the Government of Nunavut to ensure there is equal access to social programs and services.
She recognizes Iqaluit is a gateway city for any major developments that take place anywhere on Baffin Island. She said perhaps it is time to get involved in some of the projects.
Part of Redfern's platform is to make sure all who call the city home, along with visitors, feel welcome.
She said this involves having a vision and plan.
"At the end of the day we all want to live in a safe, beautiful, healthy, vibrant and dynamic community," she said.