Politics
Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

Vote For Me, Again: Council Incumbents

Rebecca Alty, Adrian Bell, Linda Bussey, Niels Konge and Phil Moon Son tell us why they should be back at City Hall.
Five out of eight incumbents are seeking to retain their seats at City Hall

The council meeting this past Monday evening was the last before people head to the polls on Oct. 19 to elect a new batch of councillors. There’s going to be a slew of new names on the ballot, but also a number of established ones.

Two councillors, Dan Wong and Cory Vanthuyne, are trying to make the jump over to territorial politics and are set to duke it out against each other in Bob Bromley’s old Weledeh riding, now called Yellowknife North. Bob Brooks, for the first time in 20 years,  won’t be on the ballot, after stepping down last month to take a senior position in the GNWT’s Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.

The other five councillors, however, have submitted their papers and are gearing up to try and win re-election. We’ll be looking more closely at each councillor’s record in the coming weeks. But to kick things off, we asked each incumbent to briefly tell us, in their own words, what they accomplished, didn’t accomplish, what they learned and why you should reelect them. You can read their official bios here.

Rebecca Alty

What were your main accomplishments over the past three years?

I was happy to be part of the council that got composting out there and continued to look at ways we can reduce our waste and maximize our landfill. I supported housing options, so now people can have secondary suites on their property, and no minimum space for houses, so people can have things like tiny homes.

What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?  

To put it a different way, one of things I hope to improve on is communications between residents and the city. We now have a good presence on social media and with webcasting, but it’s tough to engage people at the right time. Just look at Twin Pine Hill; it’s mostly projects like this where people have been over-consulted but the project’s never gone anywhere, so when things get going again, it’s like why participate now?

What do you know about the job now that you didn’t know going into the last election?

We have this interesting situation where I see a lot of people talking in their platforms about stuff the GNWT has control of; talking about how the GNWT is not doing something well, so we’ll step in. But they’re forgetting to look after their own house. Just because one order of government isn’t doing something, do we need to throw more cooks in the kitchen? With cost of living there are some things the city has control of, so we can look to take action there. If I’m re-elected I want to refocus on what’s in our mandate.

Why should people vote for you again?

I always research and do my homework before voting on issues. That involves fully reading the memos, looking at what other jurisdictions are doing and really getting out and talking to people. That’s one of my strengths.

Adrian Bell

What were your main accomplishments over the past three years?

In no particular order: I proposed a review of budget policies, which is sorely needed; that was approved by council and it’s going to help us improve transparency. I proposed improvements to the downtown residential infill incentive program to try to spur population growth in our downtown. Thirdly, I worked hard along with council colleagues to make sure we put an end to several consecutive years of property tax increases.

What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?  

We didn’t make as much headway on downtown problems as I would have liked. Also, there are several city hall administrative mechanisms that I believe need to be improved, like some of our rules around land assessment and permitting developments. But it takes a sustained effort of more than three years to make significant changes like these.

What do you know about the job now that you didn’t know going into the last election?

It takes three years just to peek behind the curtain and see the wizard. Where to start? In a large bureaucracy like this there are intricate systems and there’s quite a learning curve. Nothing is as simple as I would have thought three years ago, but I now feel better equipped to work within that system.

Why should people vote for you again?

I love this work, I find it very fulfilling and I’m prepared to work hard to achieve residents objectives. I think I work well with the other members in council and I’m effective at getting things done.

Linda Bussey

What were your main accomplishments over the past three years?

I think I was fiscally responsible. The budgets we passed reflected the needs of Yellowknife, and we worked hard to go line by line through the budgets, which I don’t think councils have done in the past. I worked on the community plan to address homelessness through the community advisory board on homelessness, which I co-chair. We worked on housing first and we’re going to have something in place very soon. I also chair the social issues committee and we went from quarterly meetings to monthly meetings.

What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?  

I think we could have implemented more environmental initiatives. I know there’s a community energy plan, but I think we need more projects, like biomass heating for public buildings. One thing we missed was revitalizing downtown. We purchased those lots and did nothing. We didn’t even have a temporary solution to generate revenue; we could have had a parking lot or a community garden there in the meantime.

What do you know about the job now that you didn’t know going into the last election?

The amount of work involved; it demands a lot of work if you want to a good job. And I discovered how much I’m passionate about doing the job. It’s the French passion, I guess.

Why should people vote for you again?

I delivered on my commitments. My plan in 2012 was about addressing homelessness and looking at social issues and sustainable budgets. I pushed those issues. I mean we’re not finished, which is why I’m running again. I bring experience to the table. And while I might not be the best person at public speaking, I bring a unique perspective and I listen to people and have an incredible respect for other people’s opinions.

Niels Konge

What were your main accomplishments over the past three years?

I think my main accomplishments were some improvements to the building bylaws, for such things as carriage houses, allowing smaller residences, as well as some improvements for getting permits. Still a lot of work to do here, but there are improvements.  Also, I think I provided a common-sense voice on council for business and residents.

What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?  

I really wanted an operational review of Planning and Lands. There are issues in this department that could be fixed. That and a review or discussion of mill rates, which is now in the works.

What do you know about the job now that you didn’t know going into the last election?

A lot more about how to get things going, making motions. Council can discuss something in a meeting, but without a motion to direct administration to do something about the discussions nothing happens. I had thought that administration would be more proactive with what it appeared council wanted, but really, they work on what they are told to do. A big difference between my everyday job and this one.

Why should people vote for you again?

Well, people either liked me or they didn’t.  When you’re running for the first time, it’s based on what you tell people you will or won’t do. When you’re going as an incumbent it’s, you either liked what I stood for or you don’t.  There are no surprises when voting for me, I’m going to be more of the same, and you like it or you don’t and that’s how people will vote.

Phil Moon Son

What were your main accomplishments over the past three years? 

I would say a shift in the allocation of resources. Another thing was increasing taxation stability. A third thing would be focusing our energies on actual governance and not micromanaging.

What were things you hoped to accomplish that you didn’t?  

Developing a safer downtown. The downtown hasn’t improved considerably over the past three years and it’s something that needs more attention. And we need stronger strategies for economic development – especially focused on industry, retention and recruitment. We also need to strengthen our working relationship with the other governments to address cost of living.

What do you know about the job now that you didn’t know going into the last election? 

I know about the procedures, inter-organizational and inter-governmental. I now know the roles and mandates of the various groups in the city and how governance is incorporated into that.

Why should people vote for you again?

People should vote for me because unless it’s a black and white issue I try my best to look at both sides of the issue. When I vote I try to accommodate all concerns and all sides to the best of my ability.