Iqaluit mayoral candidate Redfern focuses on engagement, deficit
“It’s important for the city to have a mayor that advocates stronger on behalf of the community”
Former Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern says the challenges faced by the City of Iqaluit are greater today than when she left office in 2012.
But Redfern has resolved to return to the mayor’s job at this crucial time because she wants help the municipality reduce a growing deficit.
Redfern, an Akitsiraq law school graduate and native of Iqaluit, was elected mayor in a by-election held in December 2010, but chose to pursue other opportunities when her term expired in 2012.
Recently, Redfern has worked as executive director for the Qikiqtani Truth Commission, on a major project that explored the legacy of federal government policies in Nunavut from the 1950s to the 1970s.
She’s one of three candidates, with Coun. Noah Papatsie and incumbent mayor Mary Wilman, who are seeking the mayor’s position in the Oct. 19 municipal election.
“The city faces a tremendously large deficit, which was not in place when I was mayor,” she said in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.
“The deficit the city has now, I understand is approximately $8 million, of which approximately $4 million is due to the dump fire. I would like to understand the reason for the other $4 million and to work with council as well as senior administration to put a plan in place to deal with that deficit.”
That deficit, according to claims made by the Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce, could grow to $10 million by the end of the year.
Infrastructure, she warns, has quickly become an issue for a city council that is losing its ability to maneuver because of the deficit.
And something needs to be done now to curb those losses, Redfern said.
She is calling for an assessment, if elected, to find areas where the city can tighten its belt without compromising municipal services.
“The city is dealing with infrastructure issues, its aging water, sewage system, roads, and it’s important for the city to have a mayor that advocates stronger on behalf of the community with the other levels of government to address those issues,” Redfern said.
She says the current council under Wilman has missed opportunities — especially during an election year — to push the territorial and federal governments for money to finance projects in the city.
“The challenge, of course, is without that type of strategy or commitment to work together in place — and not only for the short term but the long term — we’ve seen that there are projects that are being funded but not necessarily with any appreciation to being much more strategic about it.”
Redfern believes the important thing — and what’s been missing from the city in her absence as mayor — is community engagement.
“People know that when I was mayor, the city was very transparent. I communicated a lot to the community exactly what the issues were.”
“Its not a question of making a commitment that I didn’t make before. I did make it and I fulfilled it and I would expect to do the same if I was re-elected as mayor,” Redfern said when asked about council transparency.
Experience is an easy thing to rely on but a new term as mayor will come with its own unique challenges, Redfern said.
But she said she won’t be caught off-guard.
“There are significantly more challenges than when I left office, and as such I go into this election, and if I’m elected into this term, with my eyes wide open,” she said.
Voters will decide the next mayor and city council in the municipal election set for Oct. 19.
This is the second in a series of profiles of the three candidates vying for the Iqaluit mayor’s job.
You can find our profile of Noah Papatsie here.
Our final profile of incumbent mayor Mary Wilman runs tomorrow.