It’s now a three-way race for mayor of Whitehorse.
Scott Howell is the latest candidate to throw his hat into the ring.
“I’m the apolitical person that can best represent across party lines and cultural lines,” said the 50-year-old divorced father of four. “I’m very lucky to have a multidimensional perspective on Whitehorse.
“I understand people across every spectrum.”
He wasn’t always so apolitical.
In the ’90s, Howell was president of the Yukon Party, running under their banner in two territorial elections. In the 1992 election he lost to Piers McDonald by 23 votes. He didn’t even come close in his second try in 1996.
That was a long time ago, he said. Howell is no longer a member of the Yukon Party.
“I don’t really identify with any political party anymore,” said Howell.
Not to say that he’s not political. Howell graduated two years ago from the University of Lethbridge with a degree in political science.
He’s currently working on a master’s degree in intercultural and international communications with Royal Roads University in Victoria.
Not only have his studies helped him evolve politically, but spending time with students has given him a better understanding of their perspective.
“I’ve run into a lot of kids from Whitehorse that are studying on Vancouver Island or at the University of Lethbridge,” said Howell.
What was most striking for him is the “hopelessness” they feel about their prospects in the Yukon, he said.
“They know there’s nothing here,” said Howell. “At the best they’ll come back here to land what could be a good job and they’ll live in the basement at their parents’ place.
“If they hope to buy a place, forget it.”
Because he worked as a realtor in Alberta for over a decade, housing is an issue Howell feels he understands well.
“I understand what’s happened with the real estate market here,” he said.
He’s seen it before in Alberta.
“In Camrose, some of the values were extreme for a while, but now you can get a condo at a reasonable price,” he said. “Here, we haven’t hit that bubble yet but it seems awfully hollow in the middle of it.”
Protecting the equity of homeowners while at the same time making it affordable for those trying to enter the market will be a challenge, he said.
Over the next few weeks he plans on putting forward some solutions to that problem.
“The driving force of the Yukon is that old style ethic ‘putting other people first,’” he said. “I still live by that.”
Born in Mayo, his family moved around quite a bit – with stints in Ottawa and England – before they finally settled in Whitehorse.
In 1998, when the territorial economy tanked, he moved his family to Lethbridge.
Alberta was never a good fit though, said Howell.
“After a year in Alberta, I already started to think about coming back,” he said.
When he started University in 2005, he had made up his mind about returning to the territory.
Currently, he owns and operates a contracting and consulting business in Whitehorse.
He’s only been back for 19 months but it’s been great, he said.
“Every day there’s been somebody that I haven’t seen in 15 or 20 years that still remembers the old glory day of hockey” he said.
Howell served as president of the Whitehorse Senior Hockey League for several years, but also worked on boards, committees and fundraising initiatives, too numerous to mention.
That experience, along with his education, has given him the skills to build consensus, and engage with different levels of government and with the public, he said.
“People need to come to meetings and feel that they’ve been respected,” said Howell. “They need to leave feeling their heart has been heard.
“Consensus building means that everybody finds positive outcomes in the solutions.”
The municipal elections are scheduled for October 18.
Along with Howell, Dan Curtis, and Rick Karp are also running for mayor.
Conrad Tiedeman is the only person so far to announce plans to run for a seat on city council.
Contact Josh Kerr at