Candidates in Kuujjuaq municipal election target hunting, security issues
Nunavimmiut head to the polls Nov. 5
Two young political rivals are going toe-to-toe in the upcoming municipal elections in Kuujjuaq, with promises to fix traffic problems, curb crime rates, and improve garbage disposal.
Nunavik’s largest community and the rest of the region head to the polls on Nov. 5 to vote for their next mayors and council. One of the more closely watched races will be between Kuujjuaq’s incumbent mayor Michael Gordon, and former general manager of Makivik Corp., Larry Watt.
If elected, Gordon would have four consecutive terms in office. Like the previous election, the mayor is campaigning on continuity.
His opponent Watt wants change, and offers a cornucopia of ways he would do just that.
Either way, Kuujjuaq stands to have a youthful, educated, bilingual mayor who wants a safer community.
Gordon has made bylaw enforcement the centrepiece of his campaign, building on the outgoing council’s mandate to hire bylaw officers and night patrol officers. The community currently does not have any.
Mayor Michael Gordon and mayoral hopeful Larry Watt are seeking the top job in Kuujjuaq municipal politics. (FILE PHOTO)
Although the next council will already have the go-ahead to set up a bylaw enforcement system, Gordon said his experience with council and past work with police would make the transition more effective.
A marked increase in traffic, plus a steady rise in skidoo and four-wheeler theft around Kuujjuaq have made public safety and security a number-one priority for the current mayor.
“There’s more that can be done,” Gordon said of bylaw enforcement projects. “Kids or vandals, they create havoc during the nights, stealing four-wheelers and skidoos.
“I’ve worked with [regional police] and know some ways [of enforcement] that have not worked in the past.”
However, Gordon anticipates success at the polls not only on election promises, but because of his character and personality.
“I’m approachable, I don’t treat people differently, I’m a mayor they can trust,” Gordon said.
Watt argues tangible changes will determine the outcome.
If elected, the 33-year-old native of Kuujjuaq would have more than a dozen promises to make good on. A sizable portion of his campaign targets hunters, with pledges to help them obtain subsidies from the regional government for hunting supplies, as well as to buy storage containers for firearms.
Watt also offered to find funding to install what he described as “proper lighting” for the town’s floating dock. He added that he would also look to have a fuel outlet installed at the site.
On street safety and crime, Watt promises to promote the establishment of a community justice committee to function as an alternative to the court system. He’s also looking at initiating a crime prevention campaign with regional police through public presentations and public radio.
Watt wants to develop a solid waste program that would separate hazardous garbage such as batteries and old tires. Both candidates have promised to look into the feasibility of bringing recycling to Kuujjuaq.
As for overall governance issues, Watt said he would make elders a priority by inviting them more often to council discussions. Moreover, Watt committed himself to holding more public debates and discussions separate from council meetings.
Watt argued that his promises would be affordable – he’d increase revenues by promoting the town hall as a good venue to rent, and by networking with other organizations.
“I feel my campaign platform is reasonable and realistic, considering the community resources we have available,” Watt said, referring to the regional groups and government in Kuujjuaq.
This year marks the first time advance polling will be available. Nunavik residents who are eligible to vote in advance can go to the town hall or other designated sites around their community on Nov. 2 to cast their ballots. These voters would include people with a handicap, or who will not be able to vote at the Nov. 5 poll.