Rankin Inlet councillor takes on mayor in municipal election
Incumbent Harry Towtongie focuses on continuing projects; Megan Pizzo-Lyall wants to see more mental health and addictions support
Leading up to Nunavut’s Oct. 23 municipal elections, Nunatsiaq News is publishing snapshots of races in the territory’s 25 communities.
A Rankin Inlet municipal councillor is taking on incumbent Mayor Harry Towtongie in the community’s Oct. 23 election.
Megan Pizzo-Lyall has served on council for the past two years.
“I’ve always had the motivation to help people,” she said about why she’s running.
Pizzo-Lyall was born and raised in Taloyoak. She spent about 10 years in Iqaluit before moving to Rankin Inlet nearly seven years ago.
She is the manager of operations at Atuqtuarvik Corporation, which provides financing to Inuit-owned businesses, but she has political experience as well. Before moving to Rankin Inlet, Pizzo-Lyall was a city councillor for two years in Iqaluit and ran for the Liberal Party in the 2019 federal election.
Pizzo-Lyall said one of her priorities is to advocate for more mental health and addictions treatment or support.
“In Rankin Inlet, we currently don’t have those facilities locally and if anything there’s usually a long wait to access those programs,” she said.
Pizzo-Lyall is also pushing for improved water infrastructure in Rankin Inlet, such as replacing or upgrading defunct parts of the water infrastructure and getting upgrades to the hamlet’s sewage lift stations. This is needed so the community can build more housing, she said.
“I want to make sure that I’m there to oversee and push for the next phase of development,” Pizzo-Lyall said.
She stressed that she is not running to make lots of changes in the hamlet, but to continue the work already being done.
“I want to … ensure the right person is in the job to advocate to the government, whether it’s the federal or territorial government,” she said.
Incumbent Towtongie is a heating technician by trade who has run a small business.
Towtongie has served at the helm of Rankin Inlet for almost six years. He said he wants to stay there to address the issues his administration hasn’t had the chance to deal with because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s stuff we have to clean up and get done,” Towtongie said, like fixing the hamlet’s landfill, which he calls an “environmental disaster.”
“We need to keep our land clean and safe for people to be on,” he said.
Towtongie said the hamlet has a good relationship with the Government of Nunavut to get tasks accomplished.
That includes preparing lots for housing and dealing with water supply issues in Rankin Inlet.
“It’s an ongoing [task] that we’d like to see keep going,” Towtongie said of fixing water issues.
When asked why he should stay on as mayor, Towtongie first mentioned the experience he’s built up before going into his desire to give more to his community of over 40 years.
“I just feel like my work is not done,” Towtongie said.
There will be no race for municipal council in Rankin Inlet. The acclaimed councillors are Chris Eccles, Levi Curley, Michael Shouldice, David Kakuktinniq Jr., Danny Kowmuk, Art Sateana and Martha Hickes.
Rankin Inlet’s district education authority members are also acclaimed. They are Sheila Schweder, Ford Widrig, Mike Osmond and Margaret Uruluk Okatsiak.