Whitehorse city councillor Jocelyn Curteanu wants to move into territorial politics.
She announced on Thursday that she’s seeking the Liberal nomination in her home riding of Copperbelt South.
She said she hopes to keep working on city council for as long as possible, and will continue working as a councillor if her bid is unsuccessful.
“I have a passion for serving my community,” she said. “I would really feel honoured to do it on a full-time basis.”
Curteanu said she chose to run for the Yukon Liberals because she believes the party will maintain a good working relationship with all levels of government.
“I feel that they are able to work with everyone, really, regardless of political leanings, regardless of ideologies.”
Curteanu was elected to her second term on city council just last fall, but says she hadn’t made up her mind at that point that she wanted to run territorially.
“I never really fully or seriously started thinking about this until earlier this year … when the upcoming election was starting to be in everybody’s conversation,” she said.
Building better relationships between the territorial and municipal governments would be one of Curteanu’s priorities as an MLA.
She said there needs to be better communication and transparency between governments.
She also said she’d focus on developing a territory-wide waste management solution. “This is something that all our municipalities struggle with,” she said.
“Definitely that is something that the City struggles with, trying to finance solid waste management so it doesn’t fall completely on the shoulders of our taxpayers.”
Curteanu moved to the Yukon in 2003 to work at the local Canada Revenue Agency office. She was relocated to Alberta in 2006, but moved back to the territory in 2011.
She was first elected to city council in 2012, and is also involved in the Whitehorse Regional Women’s Committee, the Racially Visible Committee and the Canadian Filipino Association of the Yukon.
She also proposed the creation of Whitehorse’s Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination advisory committee in 2013.
Curteanu is Whitehorse’s first Filipina city councillor, and would likely become the territory’s first Filipina MLA if elected.
“I believe that our governments, our leaders would benefit from having more diversity,” she said. “Our demographics are changing very quickly … but that’s not reflected in our election of our leaders.”
Curteanu said she thinks visible minorities are underrepresented in Yukon politics because the “influx of immigrants to the Yukon is still fairly recent.”
“They’re still trying to build their lives. They’re still trying to adjust, adapt to our community,” she said, adding that Filipino immigrants often work multiple jobs and don’t have time to get involved in politics.
Copperbelt South is currently held by NDP MLA Lois Moorcroft. Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent is planning to move from Riverdale to Marsh Lake this summer, and has also decided to run in Copperbelt South.
Curteanu will also face a Liberal nomination race against local realtor Rose Sellars.
Two of Curteanu’s former city council colleagues have already thrown their hats in the Liberal ring for this territorial election. John Streicker is the Liberal candidate for Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes, while Mike Gladish is a potential candidate in Mountainview.
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