Arctic Bay candidate critical of municipal election timing
September declaratoin week happens while many residents are still on the land, says Frank May
Leading up to Nunavut’s Oct. 23 municipal elections, Nunatsiaq News is publishing snapshots of races in the territory’s 25 communities.
One of the two candidates running for mayor in Arctic Bay has criticized the scheduling of Nunavut’s municipal elections, saying the September period when people declare their candidacy conflicts with the time community members often want to spend on the land.
Frank May, who is Arctic Bay’s deputy mayor, points to the small number of registered candidates and numerous acclamations in his community and others to argue prospective candidates aren’t thinking about getting involved in politics during the late summer.
May and fellow longtime councillor Olayuk Naqitarvik are the only candidates on the ballot for mayor in Arctic Bay. Their names appeared late on Sept. 22, the final day for declarations, on the Elections Nunavut page of candidates.
“It opens [at] nine o’clock Monday morning, closes at two o’clock Friday afternoon, and people are busy, people are still boating,” May said in an interview. “I was still trying to do sealift because it was late, construction’s just starting, so nobody’s thinking about it.
“If you look at Arctic Bay’s list, there’s me and Olayuk wrestling for mayor, and then there’s one lady that’s put her name in for eight council positions so she’s going to be busy no matter who’s mayor.”
The timing of municipal elections in Nunavut is outlined in the territory’s Elections Act, which states general elections “must be held every four years on the fourth Monday in October for all municipal councils and district education authorities.”
The Act also outlines the declaration of candidacy period, which open for five days starting 35 days before the election.
When it closed last month, Arctic Bay’s list of candidates was bare.
Kigutikajuk Shappa was acclaimed as the community’s sole municipal councillor even though there are eight seats available. And Marina Muckpaloo was acclaimed as the only member of what’s supposed to be a seven-member alcohol education committee.
After the election, council and the alcohol education committee will issue their own calls for applicants and appoint community members to fill the vacant seats
No candidates entered the race for District Education Authority, so a second call for nominations was opened.
When declarations closed for a second time on Sept. 29, seven candidates were acclaimed to the DEA: Elvina Natanine, Jason Issigaitok, Jude Weigel, Ashley Taqtu, Kataisee Attagutsiak, Susan Enoogoo and Morty Alooloo.
As election day approaches in Arctic Bay, May said neither he nor Naqitarvik are out campaigning because they are both well-known, long-time members of the community, which has a population of approximately 1,000 residents.
May only offered kind words about his friend Naqitarvik, and said the race for mayor in Arctic Bay is “friendlier than you can imagine.”
Naqitarvik could not be reached for comment for this story.
“What’s the point of campaigning? Everybody knows us, knows what we’re like,” May said.
“We’re not out putting signs up or shaking hands… Pretty much everybody that’s interested knows who we are.”