The race begins
Floyd Roland says he will run for re-election

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Oct 22/99) - Following months of rumour and speculation, the picture of just who will run in the two new Inuvik ridings is becoming a little clearer.

The stakes have been raised in the Dec. 6 election. Following a Supreme Court ruling last spring, the government added five seats to the 14-member legislature and split the riding of Inuvik in two, Boot Lake on the east side and Twin Lakes in the west. Floyd Roland, the incumbent representative and minister of Health and Social Services, has said he will run for re-election and stand in Boot Lake, where he makes his home.

Other candidates have since emerged but none have yet said whether they will challenge Roland in Boot Lake, and the popular consensus is that the newcomers will duke it out in Twin Lakes.

Mayor George Roach was the most recent resident to announce his intention to run. He declared at last Wednesday's town council meeting.

"Just enough people, probably 50, thought it was a good idea," said Roach, "and no one said not to try."

Roach said he owns property in both ridings but will most likely run in Twin Lakes, though he added that he'll be representing the whole town. The mayor said he has no plans to do any major campaigning.

"Half the town are my former students and friends," he said, "though I'll get out and meet the new people."

The mayor said he won't have to take a major leave from his duties in order to run, though deputy mayor Peter Clarkson said Roach may take time off beginning in late November.

"If he's campaigning, it's better that there's not even a perceived conflict of interest," he said.

Another resident who has declared her intention to run is businesswoman Mary Beckett, who resigned her position with the school board to be eligible. Beckett said she's already recruited Gerri Sharpe-Staples as her campaign manager but is also playing a waiting game -- seeing who else will run, and in which riding, before she makes her choice.

"I think I can win in either riding given the right circumstances," she said, "but we have to weigh the pros and cons and wait as long as possible to get the most information."

The nomination period lasts for 10 days, from tomorrow until Nov. 1. Once registered, candidates can begin fund-raising and spend up to $30,000 on their election campaign.

Chris Garven said he also intends to run, but is still ironing out details, such as whether or not he will officially represent the New Democratic Party and which riding he'll choose.

Other rumoured- candidates have said little to this point and remain coy on declaring their intentions. Gwich'in negotiator Bob Simpson declined to comment while Richard Nerysoo, president of the Gwich'in Tribal Council and a 16-year veteran of the legislature, could not be nailed down.

"I've heard my name mentioned in Yellowknife, in Fort Simpson and Inuvik and I'm glad people think I would do a good job," he said, "but it might come down to deciding which way the wind is blowing on that particular day."

Finally, both Glana Hansen and Roger Allen are said to have set their sights on Twin Lakes, but more details will emerge in the coming weeks.