Levinia Brown's popularity may be tough challenge for Lorne Kusugak
Rankin mayor targets women's champion
For Levinia Brown, this election is about more than just getting re-elected to a second term as MLA for Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove.
She says she's also running to represent women, who have not often been elected to territorial office. In the last legislature, only two out of 19 MLAs were women, though both served in cabinet.
"I'm trying to speak for the women, as well as being equal for everybody," Brown said.
Brown said her campaign's themes are honesty, integrity, and leadership. She said she's worked hard as an MLA
"I've returned everybody's phone calls," she said.
As for local needs, Brown said she wants to see the construction of a fully staffed elders' centre in Rankin Inlet, and money to complete a road to the White Rock hunting area near Whale Cove.
She said that during local radio call-in shows, voters have also been talking about overcrowded housing and the need for more well-paying jobs.
Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove is the only riding in Nunavut to have only been represented by women. Former education minister Manitok Thompson narrowly defeated Brown in 1999. Brown then narrowly beat Jerry Ell in 2004.
That could change if Lorne Kusugak, the mayor of Rankin Inlet succeeds in knocking off Brown.
Kusugak said he's running because the legislature in Iqaluit needs new blood. He wants to tackle the territory's sky-high cost of living, reduce construction costs in order to boost the amount of social housing, and speed up the development of wind and hydro energy sources in the Kivalliq region.
He said he wants to see changes to the food mail program, which doesn't work for people on income support. Raising welfare rates would help, but the government also has to find ways to bring down costs, he said.
"[Food mail] is absolutely great for people if you have a Visa, but how could we translate into real cost savings for people on social assistance?"
The mayor feels he has a legitimate chance to beat Brown, who is widely considered to be one of the friendliest politicians in the territory. Kusugak acknowledges that, but says it's not what the job is all about.
"It's one thing to be popular and say hello to people," he said. "It's another to roll up your sleeves and get things done."
Both candidates also say they want to make sure Whale Cove doesn't get short shrift at the hands of its larger neighbour which forms the bulk of the riding.
Brown said she's visited Whale Cove often to meet with the local council and district education authority and helped get a daycare started there.
Kusugak said he wants to find away to restart some of the cottage industries, such as a scallop fishery and tannery, that he says once flourished in the community before division in 1999.