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Mayors-elect react to their win

Jeanne Gagnon and Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 19, 2011

After serving as both deputy mayor and mayor by council appointment, Elijassie Sala was excited to finally get a voter mandate Dec. 12 in Sanikiluaq.

"I was shaking for the first half hour after the results," the 29-year-old mayor-elect said. "People were calling constantly for the first two hours after the election, saying 'Congratulations'. It was exciting. I'm anxious for the swearing-in day."

Still, it was a close call, with Sala taking 87 votes while incumbent mayor Joe Arragutainaq received 82. If Arragutainaq calls for and wins a recount, there will be no hard feelings, Sala said.

"I respect the guy," he said of the man who took over the mayorship from him in 2009, "and he did a lot of work while he was in there."

He's looking forward to getting started on work with the help of council and the people of Sanikiluaq.

"It's going to be a lot of work getting committees organized, council organized, and the mining committee, which we don't have, running."

Mining is also a concern in Arctic Bay, where mayor-elect Frank May has his eye on the Mary River project.

"We're looking at how that could impact us and the environmental implications," the deputy mayor and long-time councillor said. "Also the possibility of a naval facility at Nanisivik, so we have to look at how we can maximize the benefits of that."

Priority one will be getting the hamlet's finances in order, May said.

"We have some financial issues, and some internal issues that have to be dealt with at the municipal level. Once we get our finances organized, we can map a way forward. I'm looking forward to the next two years."

Kimmirut's mayor-elect has been looking forward to his win for a year, said Qinnuajuaq Pudlat, the current deputy and acting mayor, through a translator.

"Now I've finally reached that day," the 69-year-old said, noting he has been deputy mayor for seven years. "I'm very happy to be elected as mayor, and I'm happy that I tried and got elected."

Pudlat's first steps will be to determine the priorities for the hamlet.

"New jobs, recreation for kids, and an extension of the runway," are among the considerations, he said.

In Grise Fiord, no one ran for mayor, so council will select one from among its ranks. Current mayor Meeka Kigatuk ran and was acclaimed as a councillor instead.

Pangnirtung mayor-elect Sakiasie Sowdlooapik said he would not comment on the election until he had made a statement to the residents of his community, which he was scheduled to do after the press deadline.

In the High Arctic community of Resolute, Tabitha Mullin was re-elected mayor with 43 votes, edging out Paul Amagoalik who got 21 votes and Saroomie Manik who got five votes.

"I am happy that I was re-elected," she said. "I would like to thank the community for their vote and the confidence they have in me. I'm going to do the best I can for the community and the people. Hopefully, we'll see some things happening here in the community that will benefit everyone."

In the south Baffin community of Cape Dorset, mayor-elect Padlaja Qiatsuq said one of his first priorities will be activities for youth.

"I'm really happy. I want to try to help out our community," said the 26-year-old. He is also the owner of Kinngait Taxi.

Simigak Suvega was runner-up in the mayoral race with 88 votes followed by Jamesie Alariaq who obtained 64 votes.

Moving west to Hall Beach, Paul Haulli is returning to the mayor's chair, as he is one of the community's former mayors. He has also been mayor of Iglulik and Pond Inlet. Haulli said he was surprised he won.

"I was just humbled. I thought I wasn't going to have this kind of response but it was very surprising," he said. "I want to have a really good working relationship with the council and the staff and make the building a welcoming place and happy place."

Haulli earned more votes than incumbent Ammie Kipsigak, who got 52, Mike Amaklak who got two, Philip Anguratsiaq who got 37 and Timothy Kuppaq who got 28.

In Iglulik, mayor-elect Nicolas Arnatsiaq garnered 146 votes; Joanna Quassa got 128, Thomas Kublu got 32, Joseph Immaroitok got 28 and Eric Nutarariaq got 11. Arnatsiaq is also the Baffinland community liaison officer.

"I was very humbled to realize the people of Iglulik have enough confidence in me to vote me in," he said. "I've never been a mayor and certainly be elected as a mayor was again, surprising to me."

He was councillor about four years ago.

In the Kitikmeot, Cambridge Bay's mayor-elect Jeannie Ehaloak got 141 votes.

She edged out James Panioyak, who had 130 votes; incumbent Syd Glawson, who received 81 votes and Peter Harte who got 25.

Ehaloak, also the environmental co-ordinator at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., said she was happy and excited she won and looks forward to the challenges.

"I thought it was going to be close between me and James (Panioyak). I'm happy with the results," she said. "My first thing during the holidays is to read all the bylaws and catch up with the last few minutes of the hamlet meetings so I can prepare myself up what's going on within the hamlet itself."

On the mainland, Kugaaruk has a new mayor, Stephan Inaksajak, while Kugluktuk re-elected its mayor Ernie Bernhardt.

Inaksajak captured 173 votes, surpassing incumbent Makabe Nartok who got 24 votes.

"I was really excited," he said. "I'm going to represent the community so I'm going to start asking what they want in town and I'll try and see if I can get it."

And Bernhardt got re-elected in Kugluktuk with 112 votes, edging out Gladys Joudrey, who garnered 106 votes and Derrick Power who got 66 votes. Bernhardt said he had no chance to campaign as he was out of the community for two weeks.

"I think the people who voted for me liked what I was doing. I'd like to continue working for our community, like try to get infrastructure going, try to get more economic development within the community," he said, adding they need restaurants, for instance.

"We need people to understand it's OK to get into business because we really need some kind of growth in the community. We cannot rely only on the government subsistence so we have to build our community from the ground up. I think one of the ways of doing it is to provide services from the community for the community."

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