ELECTION NOTEBOOK: Yellowknife North and South candidates complete first week

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Yellowknife North

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson, the only houseboater candidate, said he is content with his first week of campaigning.

“After the first week all the signs are up and the door hangers on the doors and 200 doors  have been knocked on, so I’m feeling good,” he said.

Rylund Johnson, Yellowknife North candidate. 

Johnson said he spent much of the last week campaigning with the assistance of about 10 core volunteers who helped on everything from canvassing to providing communications assistance and policy advice.

“Today (Sunday) I was in Niven, but my strategy is that I knock doors with people who live in that neighbourhood so it is not any geographical sense being all over the riding of Yellowknife North,” he said.

He says one issue he been hearing at the door is the creation of a Yellowknife-based polytechnic university.

“People are excited about it and I would say there are a lot of differing opinions on what it can and can’t be and but it is good that the debate is happening and it is long overdue,” he said.

Johnson said he is also glad to be hearing concerns about addictions and homelessness in the downtown core.

“One of the biggest things I’m hearing is downtown and that we have to do more to address poverty and addictions once and for all. I’m happy it has become an election issue.”

Johnson has employed some colourful campaign signs during the election, painted by Maddy Tetreault of Northern Inspired Art.

He said he wanted to have a different look from other candidates while supporting local artists. Johnson said he is planning on holding a Youth Get Out the Vote Rally on Sept. 19, but details on the time and location were not available at press time.

 

Cory Vanthuyne 

Cory Vanthuyne, incumbent for the electoral district, said the first week was “hectic” as he was making the transition from serving in the 19th legislative assembly into campaign mode.

“That was a hectic session and for putting legislation through,” he said. “No sooner you have to run a campaign and have your signs and brochures ready. It is quite a bit of work to get a platform and have your MLA website converted to campaign website.”

Cory Vanthuyne, incumbent, Yellowknife North

Vanthuyne began his door-to-door knocking on the Ingraham Trail over the weekend. He said he would like to have another day meeting constituents in the part of the district that reaches beyond the Yellowknife municipal boundary before he moves into city neighbourhoods.

He said he is looking forward this week to responding to correspondence from non-profit organizations and other public groups who have reached out to him with questions on his political position. He is also beginning to prepare for upcoming forums hosted by the NWT Chamber of Commerce and the electoral district forum.

Issues he has noted at the doorstep include concern over what the economy is going to look like over the life of the next assembly. While there has been some investment in diversifying the economy in areas such as fishing, forestry and tourism, MLAs must deal with a slowing economy as diamond mine production wanes, he said.

Vanthuyne has about three or four volunteers helping with signs and another three or four people helping with social media and writing platforms and other items.

 

Jan Vallillee

Jan Vallillee is enthusiastic about her campaign and said she has really enjoyed going door-to-door, in particular, since she started last Tuesday.

Jan Vallillee, candidate, Yellowknife North

“I know a lot of people in the community and it has been a good way to catch up with people that I have not seen,” she said.  “But the door-to-door aspect has been my absolute favourite. It it really is the best way to connect with people because they are in the privacy of their own homes.”

Vallillee said she has some volunteers who are helping her, particularly by going door to door with door hangers but it is important for her to meet as many people in person as possible.

“I always have someone side by side with me, she said, adding she has some helpers with door hangers and signs. “But I’m not sending anyone out to represent me. It is important for me to engage one-on-one.”

Vallillee said issues people have raised with her range from the economy to health care to social issues.

“Most people have similar concerns. It does vary neighbourhood to neighbouhoord, but only slightly.”

Vallillee said there wasn’t a real strategy behind the colours and design of her yellow, black and white signs but she was pleased with how they look. She aims to place them along street entrances in her electoral district. She also has smaller lawn signs and it was important for her to avoid plastic ones.

“I have opted to avoid plastic lawn signs and plastic and reduce my environmental footprint,” she said.

She doesn’t have any events planned and wants to use her campaign time to meet people one-on-one.

 

Yellowknife South

Gaeleen MacPherson, candidate, Yellowknife South
photo courtesy of Gaeleen MacPherson

Gaeleen MacPherson

Gaeleen MacPherson, one of two candidates for Yellowknife South, said it was a good first week as she started her campaign with door knocking on Tuesday night to begin introducing herself and to get an idea of what priorities were important in the electoral district. 

“We started on Tuesday and didn’t want to disturb people on their last holiday before the school year got into effect and carried on for the week and kind of let folks have their weekend,” she said. 

The MacPherson campaign, which includes volunteers of friends, colleagues and family, have been helping out by reaching out to people, she said. 

She is planning a barbecue next Saturday, tentatively at Parker Park with times to be announced. 

Of the feedback she has been hearing, MacPherson said there is a range of issues but many are shared by her own concerns. 

“The good news for me is that a lot of their concerns are what platform ideas I have brought forward, with the focus on the economy and what the future looks like for the economy,” she said. 

She added it is all relative because she has a business background and has head several jobs in her career which are tied to economic development. 

She said she also heard “a consistent level of concern for social issues in Yelllowknife,” the need for continued progress in workforce improvements, as well as education and how quickly people are receiving health care. 

MacPherson’s communication plans have been based around billboard signs – mostly within the boundaries of the district, an introductory brochure that she has been handing out and her “Gaeleen MacPherson for Yellowknife South” Facebook page.

 

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek, candidate, Yellowknife South

Caroline Wawzonek, the second candidate for Yellowknife South, is very enthusiastic about her campaign and said the first week of reaching out to constituents went by quickly.

“It went by really fast, actually,” she said of her first week. “It has been fantastic getting out and hitting the doors every night. People are really happy to see me at the door. It is a positive and neighbourly experience.”

Wawzonek said she has been knocking on an average of about 40 doors over two hours per night in her electoral district, depending on the length of time she engages with residents. She has as a team of five core volunteers but also up to 30 people who have provided different levels of help.

The two big issues she has been hearing at the door have been about economic uncertainty in the NWT and downtown Yellowknife social issues.

“One issue from my personal experience has been what are we going to do with diamond mines and the economy and mineral resources being revitalized since it has been stagnating in the last number of years, but also economic general growth and sort of the  bigger picture,” she said.

The other big one is people are worried about downtown (Yellowknife) and the need to look at mental health, addictions, homelessness.

Last Saturday, Wawzonek hosted a corn boil social event at the corner of England Crescent and Finlayson Drive.  She is tentatively scheduling a family event at the Fieldhouse on Sunday, Sept. 22. Times are yet to be announced.

Wawzonek’s communications efforts have also been structured around large billboard signs  in and around the electoral district and said she has put a lot of effort into ensuring they are visible and readable. There are a few outside the district as well, including one at Old Airport Road and Franklin Avenue.

She has a Facebook page called Caroline Wawzonek as well as a web page carolinewawzonek.ca where residents can leave e-messages.

 

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Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Working in Yellowknife, he covers education-based stories and general news but has also taken other beats in the past, including city hall and entertainment. He is a champion of the printed word and the importance of newspapers. As a board member of the United Way NWT and Rotary True North, he believes in the importance of civic engagement and community building. He spends his spare time with his boxer Sharona. Simon can be reached at (867) 766-8295 and editorial@nnsl.com.

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