Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut October 31, 2017 - 8:00 am

Close race in western Nunavut hub triggers recount

A nine-vote difference separates Jeannie Ehaloak and Pamela Gross

JANE GEORGE
On Oct. 30, campaign signs featuring posters from Jeannie Ehaloak and Pamela Gross remind voters in Cambridge Bay about the territorial election. The close results between the two women will trigger a recount. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
On Oct. 30, campaign signs featuring posters from Jeannie Ehaloak and Pamela Gross remind voters in Cambridge Bay about the territorial election. The close results between the two women will trigger a recount. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

(Updated, 10:45 a.m.)

CAMBRIDGE BAY—After the Oct. 30 territorial election, Cambridge Bay will have to wait about a week to learn who will serve as their new MLA: Jeannie Ehaloak or Pamela Gross.

In unofficial results, Ehaloak won the riding with 259 votes and a tight nine-vote margin over Pamela Gross, who received 250 votes.

Harry Maksagak placed third with 126 votes.

Because the difference between Ehaloak and Gross is less than two per cent, the returning officer in Cambridge Bay asked for a recount, Elections Nunavut said shortly before midnight in Cambridge Bay.

At the recount, which can be attended by the candidates, a judge will count the ballots. If the judge finds that either one of the candidates, Ehaloak or Gross, obtained a higher number of votes than the other, the candidate with the higher vote count will be declared elected.

If, on the other hand, the judge finds a tie in the number of votes, the chief electoral officer will order a byelection to be held in Cambridge Bay.

The poll-by-poll results reveal that Ehaloak won the advance poll over Gross, receiving 49 votes to 18 votes for Gross.

On election day, unofficial Elections Nunavut results from the two polls show that Ehaloak received 210 votes, while Gross received 232 votes.

There were seven rejected ballots, according to information on the Elections Nunavut website.

The recount will take about a week.

The recount will not delay the arrival of elected MLAs to Iqaluit to start their orientation Nov. 7, said John Quirke, clerk of the legislative assembly.

The 5th Legislative Assembly will convene on a date to be announced.

No matter how the results in Cambridge Bay turn out, a woman will represent Cambridge Bay, one of six women elected Oct. 30, including Mila Kamingoak who won the Kugluktuk constituency by acclamation.

Over the past month, Ehaloak, Gross and Maksagak each presented a solid case for their candidacies and campaigned hard with posters and placards, brochures, buttons, meet-and-greets and participation in an all-candidates forum Oct. 28.

During the campaign, Ehaloak, who took leave as mayor of Cambridge Bay to run for MLA, emphasized the experience in public service that she would offer the community as its new MLA, while Gross, executive director of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society, underlined her education and enthusiasm to advance Cambridge Bay and Maksagak, current chair of the Cambridge Bay Housing Association, said he believed, “there needs to be someone in the Nunavut legislature with a heart.”

Many in the community of about 1,700 felt that the election results would be close.

Voter turn out Oct. 30 in Cambridge Bay was 70.47 per cent, according to Elections Nunavut, with 642 of 911 eligible voters casting ballots.

Watching the election until the last results came in was former MLA and Finance Minister Keith Peterson, whose name, for the first time since 2003, was not on the ballot.

He did not comment on the recount which will get underway this week.

But Peterson told Nunatsiaq News that he liked the mix of the newly elected MLA, including an increase in female MLAs—which will include either Ehaloak or Gross.

“‎There is a broad range in MLA ages from 30 up to the late 60s, experienced and inexperienced alike,” he said. “Regardless, they are all equals and must get to work as quickly as possible for our common good. A fixed four-year term does not leave much time to agree on a mandate so time is critical.”

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