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The battleground for this fall’s territorial election is beginning to take shape and NNSL Media is taking a deep dive into the contexts, key issues and histories at play in each riding.

In 2015, the NWT’s electorate voted for wide-ranging change, on one hand, as eight newcomers beat out incumbents. On the other hand, the elected assembly voted to stay the course by awarding Premier Bob McLeod a second term as leader – the first time this has happened in the NWT.

This year’s candidates are vying to lead a territory beset by extreme economic uncertainty as our diamond mines begin to gear down, a warming climate and changing landscape, dwindling caribou populations, high crime rates and a stressed health system.

But we also have increasing certainty over lands and rights as self-government agreements come into play and land claims near settlement.

There are 19 constituencies being contested. Each MLA-hopeful for the territory’s 19th legislative assembly will propose a building block to the territory’s future. The voters will decide whose pieces to use in building it. We’ll be there with you to make sure you have the information you need at the ballot box on Oct. 1.

 

The Beaufort Delta

 

Inuvik Boot Lake

Current MLA and cabinet minister Alfred Moses has announced he does not intend to run this fall. Diane Thom, Jimmy Kalinek, Desmond Loreen and Eugene Rees are now competing for the seat.

The 2015 election

Alfred Moses (incumbent) wins with 366 ballots (88%)

Desmond Z. Loreen – 47 ballots (11%)

Voter turnout: 43%

415 ballots were cast out of 971 registered voters

The story so far

Diane Thom announced mid-August that she would run for the Inuvik Boot Lake seat. A self-government negotiator for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Thom’s goals if elected would be to more effectively deliver programs to residents, strengthen ties between community and regional governments, among other issues.

On Sept. 6, just before nominations closed, Jimmy Kalinek, Desmond Loreen and Eugene Rees filed their papers to enter the race. Information on their platforms will be posted as it becomes available.

Alfred Moses announced around the same time that he would not seek another term as the riding’s MLA. Moses was re-elected as Inuvik Boot Lake’s MLA in 2015, having first won the seat in 2011.

Moses entered cabinet in 2015 with the Education, Culture and Employment portfolio, during which time he’d faced criticisms over the implementation of junior kindergarten and potential cuts to Aurora College’s programming, including social work and teacher education programs, but he also kicked off the foundational review of the college that led to its reimagining as a polytechnic university.

In 2018, he and minister Caroline Cochrane switched portfolios, giving him responsibility over Municipal and Community Affairs, Housing, and the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission. Most recently, he had to defend a decision to appoint his longtime aide a high-paying advisory contract to the WSCC. He maintained she was qualified for the role.

 

 

Inuvik Twin Lakes

Robert C. McLeod has announced he will not run for re-election this fall. Lesa Semmler, Sallie Ross and Donald Hendrick have since announced their candidacies.

The 2015 election

Robert C. McLeod (incumbent) wins with 262 ballots (60%)

Jimmy Kalinek – 174 ballots (40%)

Voter turnout: 43%

438 ballots were cast out of 1,014 registered voters

The story so far

Lesa Semmler, a registered nurse and participant in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry, has reportedly announced she’ll be running for the vacated Inuvik Twin Lakes seat in this fall’s election.

Sallie Ross, who’s worked as a nurse and the regional manager of an income security program, announced that if elected she would “work to ensure that programs and services are in place that benefit the families and individual residents of the Twin Lakes Riding and, ultimately, Inuvik as a whole.”

Donald Hendrick is also running for the seat, though he has not yet made public his platform.

Sitting MLA Robert C. McLeod, a cabinet minister who was first elected to Inuvik Twin Lakes in 2004, announced in March that he won’t be running this fall.

 

 

Mackenzie Delta

Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic

Frederick Blake Jr., running unopposed in his riding, is set to be acclaimed as the Mackenzie Delta MLA.

The 2015 election

Frederick Blake Jr. (incumbent) wins with 313 ballots (48%)

William Firth – 137 ballots (21%)

Norman Snowshoe – 116 ballots (18%)

David Krutko – 86 ballots (13%)

Voter turnout: 66%

655 ballots were cast out of 998 registered voters

The story so far

No one signed up to challenge incumbent Mackenzie Delta MLA Frederick Blake Jr.’s re-election campaign, so he is set to be acclaimed.

In announcing his bid for re-election, Blake told Cabin Radio some of his priorities are addressing the lack of housing in his constituent communities and pushing for the Mackenzie Valley Highway extension.

Blake was first elected in 2011 and has previously served as chief and mayor of Tsiigehtchic as well as president of the Gwich’ya Gwich’in Council.

Recently, he’s pushed for increased safety measures, such as guardrails, for the Dempster Highway.

 

 

Nunakput

Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok, Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk

Incumbent MLA Herbert Nakimayak has confirmed he intends to defend his seat this fall. Alisa Blake, Holly Campbell, Annie Steen, Jackie Jacobson and Sheila Nasogaluak have stepped forward to challenge the seat.

The 2015 election

Herbert Nakimayak wins with 229 ballots (30%)

Jackie Jacobson (incumbent) – 225 ballots (30%)

Ethel-Jean Gruben – 174 ballots (23%)

John Stuart Jr. – 81 ballots (11%)

Robert Kuptana – 35 ballots (5%)

Voter turnout: 76%

751 ballots were cast out of 991 registered voters

The story so far

Four women and former MLA Jackie Jacobson have stepped forward to challenge incumbent Nunakput MLA Herbert Nakimayak’s seat.

Annie Steen has worked in tourism, logistics and transportation, as well as government. She has stated that, through this work, she understands the region and issues very well.

Alisa Blake, a mine safety trainer and former Fort McPherson hamlet councillor, announced she was running in August. Chief among her focusses, if elected, would be what she views as substandard healthcare in communities compared to more urban towns and cities, housing and securing more resources to address poverty.

Holly Campbell has worked in both the public and private sectors as well as with non-profit and community-level organizations. She is currently an economic development officer in Inuvik. In announcing her candidacy on Facebook, Campbell said she has a deep respect for her elders and their values and would use that moral framework in decision-making if elected. Some of her main issues are the high cost of living, housing shortages, shortcomings in social support, healthcare, economic issues, environmental impacts, and barriers to education.

Sheila Nasogaluak became a candidate on Sept. 4 but has not yet made public her platform.

Former Nunakput MLA and speaker Jackie Jacobson has filed his papers to run for the seat this year. News/North has not yet spoken to him about his platform.

Nakimayak told Cabin Radio in July that, if re-elected this fall, he hopes to continue working with Marine Transportation Services to make sure situations like the failed resupply of Paulatuk in 2018 aren’t repeated. He also said he hopes to push for improvements to the territory’s medical travel policy.

Nakimayak beat then-incumbent MLA Jackie Jacobson in 2015 by a slim margin of four votes in a crowded field of candidates. This constituency’s election garnered the highest voter turnout in the territory. Jacobson challenged Nakimayak’s win, though it was upheld. Last fall, Nakimayak ran for president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, for which he had been serving as vice-president, but lost the race to Nunavut politician Monica Ell-Kanayuk.

 

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Mackenzie Valley

 

Deh Cho

Enterprise, Fort Providence, Hay River Reserve and Kakisa

Deh Cho MLA Michael Nadli told Hay River Hub in August that he’ll be seeking re-election. Ronald Bonnetrouge is his sole challenger.

The 2015 election

Michael Nadli (incumbent) wins with 190 ballots (40%)

Ronald Bonnetrouge – 172 ballots (37%)

Gregory Nyuli – 66 ballots (14%)

Lyle Fabian – 40 ballots (8%)

Voter turnout: 61%

471 ballots were cast out of 776 registered voters

The story so far

This year’s race will be a rematch between incumbent Deh Cho MLA Michael Nadli and Ronald Bonnetrouge.

Nadli was re-elected in 2015 by a margin of 18 votes (or four per cent) against runner-up Bonnetrouge. If Nadli keeps his seat, he said he will continue his advocacy for jobs, the environment and small communities. On the latter note, he said he believes this last assembly has made some progress on housing capacity.

Nadli was re-elected in 2015 by a margin of 18 votes (or four per cent) against runner-up Ronald Bonnetrouge. First elected in 2011, Nadli’s re-election was controversial, even making headlines outside the territory. He spent the last days of his first term in jail, and suspended from his seat as MLA, after pleading guilty to assault causing bodily harm in relation to an incident of domestic violence that left his spouse’s wrist broken. He’d been convicted of assault before, in 2004, against the same victim. He completed the domestic violence counselling program A New Day in the leadup to his sentence.

He was re-elected with 40 per cent of the vote, the rest being split up among three challengers, and would later stand to speak in support of A New Day’s continued funding in the legislative assembly.

 

 

Nahendeh

Fort Liard, Fort Simpson, Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte, Trout Lake and Wrigley

Incumbent MLA Shane Thompson announced he will run for re-election this fall. Mike Drake, Randy Sibbeston and Eric Menicoche are challenging the seat.

The 2015 election

Shane Thompson wins with 295 ballots (29%)

Rosemary Gill – 200 ballots (20%)

Randy Sibbeston – 199 ballots (20%)

Kevin Menicoche (incumbent) – 137 ballots (14%)

Dëneze Nakehk’o – 129 ballots (13%)

Arnold Hope – 23 ballots (2%)

Dennis Nelner – 11 ballots (1%)

Voter turnout: 60%

1,001 ballots were cast out of 1,661 registered voters

The story so far

Randy Sibbeston, social worker Mike Drake and Eric Menicoche have all confirmed their candidacy in the race for the Nahendeh riding. Details on their platforms will be posted when it becomes available.

Incumbent Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson announced he’ll defend his seat in the legislative assembly on June 6. In his address, he said he wants the GNWT to transition people from public housing to home-ownership. He touched on climate change, access to organized sports, protecting at-risk elders, fostering entrepreneurship and decentralization, and pushed against what he termed as the “endless cycles of studying a problem but never getting around to fixing it.”

Last year, he chaired the committee tasked with reviewing the GNWT’s cannabis legislation, travelling around the territory to vet it with the public. He pushed unsuccessfully for the legalization in the NWT to be delayed for a year, saying the territory’s proposed system wasn’t ready yet.

Thompson pulled ahead among a crowded field of candidates in the 2015 election, in which then-incumbent Kevin Menicoche fell to fourth place in the public favour.

 

 

Sahtu

Colville Lake, Deline, Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells and Tulita

Incumbent MLA Daniel McNeely will seek re-election this fall, challenged by Paulie Chinna, Wilfred McNeely Jr. and Caroline Yukon.

The 2015 election

Daniel McNeely wins with 271 ballots (29%)

Yvonne Doolittle – 242 ballots (26%)

Paul Andrew – 229 ballots (25%)

Judy Tutcho – 175 ballots (19%)

Voter turnout: 58%

931 ballots were cast out of 1,592 registered voters

The story so far

Paulie Chinna, Wilfred McNeely Jr. and Caroline Yukon all signed on to challenge the Sahtu seat on Sept. 6, the final day to file nominations. Details on their platforms will be posted as it becomes available.

Incumbent Sahtu MLA Daniel McNeely announced in a June 23 Facebook post that he’ll defend his seat this fall, saying he wants to continue to push for improvements to programs and services in his region and for greater capital investment.

In 2015, McNeely pulled ahead in a four-way race in which all candidates captured admirable chunks of the vote. Incumbent MLA Norman Yakeleya had vacated the seat.

Recently, McNeely has been one of several MLAs pushing for greater, and urgent, action on the territory’s dwindling caribou numbers.

 

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South Slave, Akaitcho and Tlicho

 

Hay River North

Incumbent Rocky (R.J.) Simpson is running unopposed and set to be acclaimed.

The 2015 election

Rocky (R.J.) Simpson wins with 375 ballots (53%)

Robert Bouchard (incumbent) – 252 ballots (35%)

Karen Felker – 84 ballots (12%)

Voter turnout: 52%

712 ballots were cast out of 1,377 registered voters

The story so far

No one stepped up to challenge Hay River North MLA Rocky (R.J.) Simpson’s bid for re-election, so he is set to be acclaimed to his seat.

Simpson said his priorities for a second term will be addressing the community’s housing deficit, chronic staff shortages at the Hay River Regional Health Centre, and bolstering the territory’s education system.

Simpson took incumbent Robert Bouchard’s seat in 2015 by a margin of 123 votes, or 17 per cent. The new MLA had just graduated law school the year previous and credited his win to a rigorous campaign of door-knocking, a strong performance at the all-candidates’ debate, and a desire for change among his constituents. On the regular MLAs’ bench, Simpson has recently been vocal about the health centre staff shortages, the fallout from the fire at Hay River’s highrise this past spring, and he campaigned to remove ministers Glen Abernethy and Wally Schumann, who also represents the other half of Hay River, due to what he saw as failures on their portfolios. The ministers survived the non-confidence vote on Oct. 31 of last year.

 

 

Hay River South

Incumbent MLA and cabinet minister Wally Schumann plans to defend his seat this fall but will have at least one challenger, Rocky Simpson, a businessman and father of Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson.

The 2015 election

Wally Schumann wins with 372 ballots (47%)

Jane Groenewegen (incumbent) – 274 ballots (35%)

Brian Willows – 142 ballots (18%)

Voter turnout: 57%

790 ballots were cast out of 1,374 registered voters

The story so far

Hay River South MLA Wally Schumann and current minister of Infrastructure and Industry, Tourism and Investment will not go unchallenged in the 2019 territorial election.

Rocky Simpson, a businessman and father of Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson, told Hay River Hub that a father/son duo “could do a lot for Hay River.” He lists housing, medical care, education, support for seniors, the fishing industry, improving highways, small business and affordable power among his concerns.

The owner of Concept Energy Services Ltd. says his decision to run in Hay River North is unrelated to the cancellation of a contract in 2017 to build 19 modular homes for the NWT Housing Corporation.

Schumann confirmed in early July that he’d aim to be back in cabinet if re-elected. He also said he would consider a run for the premier’s seat.

As minister of Infrastructure, Schumann has been an advocate for big infrastructure investments such as the Mackenzie Valley Highway, the Slave Geological Access Corridor project and the Taltson hydroelectric facility expansion.

He has also faced criticism on this portfolio. Last fall, he survived a non-confidence vote that was levied against him due to the failures of Marine Transportation Services’ 2018 barge season. After the Hay River-based barging service Northern Transportation Company Ltd. went under, the GNWT bought its assets in 2016 for $7.5 million and created MTS. In 2018, the MTS barging season ended early due to sea ice, leaving Paulatuk and two Nunavut communities without resupplies. Fuel and goods were eventually airlifted in. Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart led the charge against Schumann in the wake of these troubles, accusing the Infrastructure department of prioritizing industrial barge clients over communities. Schumann denied the accusation and maintained that MTS went above and beyond what a private company would have done to get supplies to these communities.

Schumann beat Jane Groenewegen in 2015 by 98 votes, taking the seat she’d held since 1995.

 

 

Monfwi

Behchoko, Gameti, Wekweeti and Whati

Incumbent MLA Jackson Lafferty is running unopposed and is set to be acclaimed.

The 2015 election

Jackson Lafferty (incumbent) was acclaimed

Voter turnout: N/A

There were 1,711 registered voters in the riding

The story so far

Incumbent MLA and Speaker Jackson Lafferty is set to once again be acclaimed to the Monfwi seat, as no challengers entered the fray to challenge his bid for re-election.

Lafferty also ran unopposed last election and has held his seat since he won it in a 2005 by-election. He’s served in the past as minister of Education, Culture and Employment as well as the minister responsible for the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission and has sat in the speaker’s chair throughout the 18th assembly.

 

 

 

Thebacha

Fort Smith

Incumbent MLA and cabinet minister Louis Sebert has confirmed he will run again this fall. Denise Yuhas, Don Jaque and Frieda Martselos are his challengers.

The 2015 election

Louis Sebert wins with 401 ballots (43%)

  1. Michael Miltenberger (incumbent) – 363 ballots (38%)

Don Jaque – 173 ballots (18%)

Voter turnout: 51%

943 ballots were cast out of 1,844 registered voters

The story so far

Denise Yuhas has told Cabin Radio she intends to run in this fall’s election to be a Thebacha MLA who will “listen, communicate and deliver.” Yuhas served as constituency assistant to former Thebacha and cabinet minister MLA Michael Miltenberger.

Former Northern Journal publisher Don Jaque announced his candidacy in August, saying he has a particular set of skills, experience and knowledge that would help fix issues in the riding. He said the main concerns he has heard from potential constituents are the pending loss of the Aurora College headquarters to a polytechnic university based in Yellowknife, the decline in the community’s health centre, and the slumping riverbank below downtown.

Salt River First Nation Chief Frieda Martselos announced she will be running for the seat in August as well, announcing she would step down as chief by the end of the month to do so. “I believe Fort Smith needs a strong, proven leader with the skills and experience to achieve your mandate  — a leader with compassion, excellent communication skills, and record of positive results,” she wrote in a letter to media.

Current MLA and Justice Minister Louis Sebert confirmed in August that he would run again.

A veteran Fort Smith lawyer, Sebert unseated five-term incumbent MLA and high-profile cabinet minister Michael Miltenberger by a margin of 38 votes in 2015. Sebert had formerly sat on Fort Smith’s town council for 14 years. As justice minister, Sebert has overseen the introduction of legal cannabis in the NWT but his term has largely been marked by a non-confidence vote midway through.

In a secret, non-binding ballot at the end of cabinet’s mid-term review in the fall of 2017 – the first to take place since the 12th assembly – MLAs voted to express non-confidence in Sebert. They expressed displeasure with his department’s handling of the roll-out of the A New Day men’s healing program.

When his ouster went to an actual vote, MLAs elected that he stay in the role. Sebert said he was listening and taking note of the criticisms levied against him.

 

 

Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh

Ndilo, Lutsel K’e, Fort Resolution and Dettah

Incumbent MLA Tom Beaulieu won’t run again this fall but Nadine Delorme, Steve Norn, Paul Betsina, Lila Erasmus and Richard Edjericon have thrown their hats in the ring to take the seat this fall.

The 2015 election

Tom Beaulieu (incumbent) wins with 410 ballots (70%)

Richard Edjericon – 177 ballots (30%)

Voter turnout: 71%

587 ballots were cast out of 822 registered voters

The story so far

Nadine Delorme announced in July on Facebook that she’ll run for the Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh seat this fall after experiencing the housing issues facing Northerners first-hand, as well as issues with neglect of dogs in communities and a familial legacy of philanthropy.

Former RCMP officer Steve Norn announced at this year’s Akaitcho Assembly that he is running for the seat. He told Cabin Radio he is focused on issues such as implementing the Thaidene Nene national park, employment and housing challenges, and weathering the economic storm coming with the closure of the NWT’s diamond mines.

Former Yellowknives Dene First Nation councillor and Det’on Cho manager Paul Betsina announced he would run for the seat in August, saying he is at a point in his life where he feels it is time to take such a leadership mantle. He listed as his main issues responsible economic development, affordable quality housing and the settlement of land claims.

Consultant and business-owner Lila Erasmus announced she would be running in late August and said she would release her platform on Sept. 2. She said that she hopes to carry on her late father Peter Fraser’s legacy, as he was a respected elder and served two terms as MLA for Mackenzie/Great Bear. She said her primary reason for running is to see more decision-making power and authority for Indigenous people in government, within their communities and on their land.

Richard Edjericon filed his papers to become a candidate on Sept. 6, the final day for nominations. Details on his platform will be posted as they become available.

Incumbent and three-term Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Tom Beaulieu announced in May that he won’t run again this fall, taking parting shots at what he called the GNWT’s inability to spend strategically in areas such as in-home care for seniors as well as greater incomes and jobs in communities, which he said would produce benefits over the long term. During his tenure, he held various cabinet portfolios.

 

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Yellowknife

 

Frame Lake

Incumbent MLA Kevin O’Reilly is seeking re-election, challenged by former Kam Lake MLA and cabinet minister David Ramsay.

The 2015 election

Kevin O’Reilly wins with 156 ballots (28%)

Jan Fullerton – 141 ballots (26%)

David Wasylciw – 132 ballots (24%)

Roy Erasmus – 117 ballots (21%)

Voter Turnout: 28%

548 ballots were cast out of 1,982 registered voters

The story so far

David Ramsay, who sat as the Kam Lake MLA from 2003 until he was unseated by Kieron Testart in 2015, is running in a Frame Lake riding that was redrawn to include part of his former Kam Lake riding prior to last election. His message so far is that the territory isn’t doing enough to enhance is economic prospects for the future.

During his time in office, Ramsay served as minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment; Transportation; attorney general and minister of Justice; minister of Transportation; and minister responsible for the Public Utilities Board.

Kevin O’Reilly announced his intention to run again on June 13 on a platform of climate action, tourism expansion, and bolstering post-secondary education. He pointed to his record of environmental advocacy in sitting on the regular members’ bench, and says he held cabinet accountable.

O’Reilly pulled ahead of his competitors in 2015 by a margin of 15 votes, or three per cent. The riding had been hotly contested after two-term MLA Wendy Bisaro vacated her seat.

O’Reilly came into the race as a well-known advocate for environmental causes with political experience. He served on Yellowknife’s city council from 1997 to 2006 and was executive director of the Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency at the time of his election.

 

 

Great Slave

Great Slave MLA and cabinet minister Glen Abernethy has announced he won’t seek re-election this fall. Vying for the seat are Katrina Nokleby and Patrick Scott.

The 2015 election

Glen Abernethy wins with 511 ballots (79%)

Chris Clarke – 135 ballots (21%)

Voter turnout: 27%

650 ballots were cast out of 2,384 registered voters

The story so far

Katrina Nokleby has lived and worked in the North since 2006 and is campaigning on building the territory’s economy by encouraging sustainable exploration and development. She also considers infrastructure investments could help shield the territory’s economy from the effects of climate change. Nokleby is an engineer specializing in environmental assessments and has also worked as an ice engineer on the Tibbitt-to-Contwoyto winter road. Her political experience includes two terms on council with the NWT and Nunavut Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, and a seat as director for the NWT’s YWCA.

Business owner Patrick Scott, a former land claim negotiator who’s also worked with CBC and the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission, announced in mid-August he would run for the seat. His platform prioritizes tackling climate change, diversifying the economy with a focus on sustainability, support for single parents, mentorship for homeless, affordable housing, multilingual programming for students and supporting cultural revitalization.

Outgoing MLA Glen Abernethy has sat for Great Slave since 2007 and served in cabinet since 2011. He announced in early August that he would not run seek re-election this fall. His portfolios have included justice, government house leader as well as the notoriously difficult Health and Social Services department, which he has helmed since 2013.

Abernethy’s current tenure as health minister almost came to a dramatic end last fall, when he survived a non-confidence vote levied against him on portfolio-related matters. Abernethy was slammed over his department’s failure to act after two damning reports from the Auditor General of Canada concerning how the territory delivers child and family services – one report in 2014 and then another last October that said the situation had become worse. The matter was considered serious enough that six regular MLAs voted to remove Abernethy, including Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly, who did so in spite of considering Abernethy “perhaps our best minister.” Abernethy also took a run for the job of premier after the 2015 election, though Yelowknife South MLA Bob McLeod was chosen for a historic second term.

 

 

Kam Lake

Incumbent MLA Kieron Testart is being challenged by Robert Hawkins, Caitlin Cleveland, Abdullah Al-Mahamud, Cherish Winsor and Rommel Silverio.

The 2015 election

Kieron Testart wins with 280 ballots (58%)

Dave Ramsay (incumbent) – 202 ballots (42%)

Voter turnout: 25%

486 ballots were cast out of 1,923 registered voters

The story so far

Challenger Robert Hawkins made his name as the three-term MLA for Yellowknife Centre. After losing the 2015 race to Julie Green, he has been running Apex Property Management and Pest Control. Through this business, he says he’s made strong connections in the Kam Lake constituency and he said he has faith that his reputation stands as a “solid constituency MLA” and a collaborator in government. He said he’s concerned with kitchen-table issues for families, green investments and heading off the economic uncertainty posed by the coming diamond mine closures.

Caitlin Cleveland, who announced her candidacy on July 25, said she’s running because she has a “vested interest in the success and quality of life of all our people and the sustainability of our land as we push our economy beyond diamond mines.” Cleveland is a former senior policy analyst and communications officer at the GNWT and has been operating most recently as a professional photographer.

Entrepreneur Abdullah Al-Mahamud, proprietor of Yellowknife’s Quiznos franchises, is running on a platform of careful fiscal management with the goals of universal daycare, renewable energy, affordable housing, “competitive government insurance” and entrepreneurship.

Cherish Winsor sees herself as a social issues candidate though her primary issue is the economy. She is a senior communications advisor at the GNWT, president of both the YK Food Bank and the YWCA but has also worked in mining, which she said has given her a perspective on the industry’s important in the North.

City councillor Rommel Silverio announced his candidacy in early September. The two-term councillor works as a patient care coordinator at Stanton Territorial Hospital and told Yellowknifer his main priorities are fixing what he calls the territory’s healthcare crisis, including staffing shortages at Stanton and across the territory; addressing the underfunding of communities; and pushing for more momentum on helping reduce social issues like addiction and homelessness.

Incumbent Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart is running again this October. He announced last fall that he’d been in talks with other potential candidates to run on a shared platform but has since told CBC that this alliance had broken down amid a “concerted campaign of disinformation and intimidation launched by supporters of the way things are.”

Testart, a vocal and participatory MLA on the regular members’ bench, pushed last year for party politics to be adopted in the NWT, though the idea was rejected by other MLAs. He’s also floated the idea of the regular members’ bench operating like an official opposition – a position within which Yellowknifer’s editorial board found flaws.

Testart has been active in committee, recently and noticeably on vetting the territory’s cannabis laws with the public and pushing back against some of the GNWT’s initial plans.

The former president of the federal Liberals’ NWT riding association, Testart beat incumbent, three-term MLA and cabinet minister Dave Ramsay in 2015 by a margin of 78 votes.

 

 

Range Lake

Incumbent MLA and cabinet minister Caroline Cochrane has confirmed she intends to defend her seat this fall. She’s being challenged by Hughie Graham.

The 2015 election

Caroline Cochrane wins with 333 ballots (50%)

Daryl Dolynny (incumbent) – 328 ballots (50%)

Voter turnout: 32%

662 ballots were cast out of 2,092 registered voters

The story so far

Former NWT Chamber of Commerce president Hughie Graham entered the race with an announcement on Aug. 1, saying his platform rests on the two pillars of collaboration and communication.

“We have issues in Northwest Territories that could take generations to solve that we
need to take action on. Some of these issues I see immediately are infrastructure,
exploration and reconciliation,” he said. “We need leaders to tackle these issues and push the territory forward.”

Incumbent Range Lake MLA and cabinet minister Caroline Cochrane told CBC she will seek re-election this fall, saying she believes her record of hard work and the things she’s accomplished as minister support her case.

Beating incumbent Darryl Dolynny by a slim margin of five votes in 2015, rookie MLA and former social worker Cochrane has gone on to become a high-profile minister with a few accomplishments to her name.

As minister of Housing, Cochrane was praised by regular MLAs Tom Beaulieu and Julie Green for developing programs specifically fitted to individual communities.

As minister of Education, Culture and Employment, her current title, Cochrane has spearheaded the movement to transform Aurora College into a polytechnic university. The idea has created unease in Fort Smith, the central hub to the current college, as well as campus town Inuvik, especially as the report on which this proposal is based recommended Yellowknife become the new institution’s base of operations.

Cochrane has since maintained the polytechnic will be based among its three campuses, all of which would see benefits.

 

 

Yellowknife Centre

Incumbent MLA Julie Green has announced she’ll seek re-election this fall. She is being challenged by Arlene Hache, Thom Jarvis and Niels Konge.

The 2015 election

Julie Green wins with 470 ballots (54%)

Robert Hawkins (incumbent) – 389 ballots (45%)

Voter turnout: 38%

869 ballots were cast out of 2,316 registered voters

The story so far

Arlene Hache announced on July 29 that she’s seeking election to be Yellowknife Centre MLA on a platform centred around the city’s downtown core. She argued that violence in the area has reduced the safety of vulnerable residents living on the street and negatively impacted tourism.

“This is a world I know. Not only have I dedicated my life to working with Yellowknife’s street-entrenched community, I myself lived on the streets of Yellowknife,” Hache said. “I know what it takes to help people lift themselves out of poverty and regain their sense of self-worth.”

Hache has run for territorial politics before, the last time ending in a loss to incumbent MLA Robert Hawkins in 2011.

Thom Jarvis told Yellowknifer he is taking a non-ideological approach policy, running on a platform of fixing the city’s economy and its struggling downtown, and pushing for cheaper, cleaner energy through the Taltson expansion.

Three-term city councillor Niels Konge, the outspoken proprietor of Konge Construction, has filed his papers to run in Yk Centre. Before making his candidacy official, Konge said his priorities would include lowering cost of living by pushing for reduced power prices, social issues involving the city’s joint sobering centre and day shelter as well as access to land issues in the city.

Incumbent Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green announced in June that she’ll seek to defend her seat this fall. She highlighted her work on improving access to affordable housing, pushing for full funding for junior kindergarten and in pushing for binding arbitration to avoid the public service strike that almost took place earlier this year.

Green says she intends to be a strong advocate for her constituents who have difficulties accessing government services and programs.

A former journalist turned community advocate, Green unseated incumbent and three-term MLA Hawkins by a margin of 81 votes in 2015.

 

 

Yellowknife North

Incumbent MLA Cory Vanthuyne intends to run for re-election this fall. Rylund Johnson and Jan Vallillee are contesting the seat.

The 2015 election

Cory Vanthuyne wins with 392 ballots (36%)

Dan Wong – 376 ballots (34%)

Ben Nind – 189 ballots (17%)

Edwin Castillo – 127 ballots (12%)

Sean Erasmus – 12 ballots (1%)

Voter turnout: 45%

1,103 ballots were cast out of 2,448 registered voters

The story so far

Lawyer Rylund Johnson announced at the end of June that he intends to run for the Yellowknife North seat this fall with the priorities of diversifying the economy, reducing harm to vulnerable communities, creating equality of opportunity, promoting Northern unity and spurring investment in the North. He argues against offshore oil development and says the forecasted costs of climate change make dealing with it an urgent economic issue.

Jan Vallillee, a born-and-raised Yellowknifer who worked in information technology at Stanton Territorial Hospital for two decades, announced her candidacy at the end of August. She’s been a dedicated volunteer throughout her life, logging more than 10,000 hours with various community NGOs. Her platform includes improving and streamlining the mineral exploration processes; developing a polytechnic university that partners with local businesses; developing a strategy to recruit health care workers to Stanton Territorial Hospital and turning long-term leases on Ingraham Trail cabins to title-owned land, among other things.

Incumbent Cory Vanthuyne announced he’ll seek a second term as the MLA for Yellowknife North. In his post, he described the learning process he’s gone through over the past four years, his experience in committee, and stated he wants to stay focused on helping create long-term benefits for the territory rather than kneejerk reactions to the news of the day.
After longtime Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley vacated his seat ahead of the 2015 election, the boundaries of some of Yellowknife’s constituencies were redrawn. Much of what was Weledeh became Yellowknife North, and the new constituency was fought over by five candidates.

Vanthuyne pulled ahead of Dan Wong – both former city council colleagues – by a margin of 16 votes that election.

Since being elected, Vanthuyne has chaired the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, which was recently tasked with reviewing the controversial Mineral Rights Act, the Protected Areas Act, the Environmental Rights Act and the Forest Act.

 

 

Yellowknife South

Incumbent MLA and Premier Bob McLeod has confirmed he will not run again this fall. Caroline Wawzonek and Gaeleen MacPherson have announced they’ll contest the seat.

The 2015 election

Robert R. (Bob) McLeod wins with 485 ballots (70%)

Nigit’stil Norbert – 179 ballots (26%)

Samuel Roland – 29 ballots (4%)

Voter turnout: 33%

695 ballots were cast out of 2,097 registered voters

The story so far

Longtime Yellowknife lawyer Caroline Wawzonek announced in April that she is running this fall for the Yellowknife South seat. She says she’s running out of concern for the city’s economic future and wants to work on managing a resource-based economy in a region that’s at the forefront of global climate change.

She also said she’d like the GNWT to review its regulations to reduce overlap and streamline operations, and she comes with legal experience hoping to improve the territory’s justice system through things like community involvement and prioritization of restorative justice.

Gaeleen MacPherson, vice-president of corporate affairs at Dominion Diamonds, announced in late August that she’d be running for the seat. She said she views cost of living to be the “single greatest impediment” to growth in the territory, and that her experience in the mining industry and in business would be vital to helping the NWT change course at a time when the looming closure of two diamond mines is threatening the economy. She said there is potential in an industry focussed on products and services. She also said education is an important issue to her, including following through on plans for an ambitious new polytechnic university.

Premier Bob McLeod told Yellowknifer he won’t be running again this fall.

Picked by his peers in 2015 to be the territory’s first two-term premier, McLeod came to the territorial politics initially in 2007 after being a senior-level bureaucrat in the GNWT and for the federal government. He held various cabinet portfolios in his first term before becoming premier in 2011.

His first term as the territory’s leader saw him sign and oversee the implementation of the territory’s historic, and controversial, devolution deal.

His current term as the territory’s leader saw him very vocal about federal meddling in the territory’s economy, issuing a “red alert” that called for investment and autonomy in the North.

His priorities have been clear, though they’ve put him at odds with others who view the territory’s future differently. McLeod views infrastructure projects such as the Slave Geological Province access road, the Mackenzie Valley Highway and the Taltson hydroelectric expansion as key to the NWT’s future; and he views federal interference liked the federal government’s 2015 moratorium on offshore oil exploration as bad-faith measures that hamstring the territory’s future.