Council gets new blood

Gliding in only after all the results had been tallied, newcomer Ranj Pillai arrived at council chambers Thursday night just long enough to drink in the glory of his win.

Gliding in only after all the results had been tallied, newcomer Ranj Pillai arrived at council chambers Thursday night just long enough to drink in the glory of his win.

Calm, but with a noticeable smile to his face, Pillai fielded questions from reporters.

He won more votes than all other candidates except incumbent Doug Graham.

“I’m a bit shocked, actually,” he said.

The sentence was to be repeated several times that night to the many people who asked him how he felt.

Pillai snatched 2,422 votes, just 256 fewer than Graham. He was a sizeable 421 votes ahead of third-place winner Betty Irwin, another newcomer.

Before the results started rolling in, Pillai thought things would go one of two ways.

“I saw a situation where there would be a big flip on council, or none at all. I was proved wrong though; there was a bit of a mix of the two.”

Apparently, voters were impressed with Pillai’s strong record of community involvement and his well-expressed ideas.

For three weeks Pillai held firm to a platform of financial accountability and a promise to increase transfers from the territory to the city.

But his slick marketing might have had something to do with his win as well.

“It must have been his signage,” was a murmur overheard in council chambers Thursday night.

With the election now behind him, his first priority will be to sit down with the territorial government and review their protocols on municipal grants, he said.

He’ll also be keeping a close watch on the budget.

“In the last three years (council) has been comfortable with increasing taxes to compensate for spending,” he said.

Irwin humbled

by public confidence

The morning after her win on council, Betty Irwin was still beaming with satisfaction.

As another new face on council, Irwin wasn’t so much surprised as gratified to have been voted in.

“What a tremendous show of respect to be handed that kind of win,” she said.

“I’m still amazed that my voters had that much confidence in me.”

She was referring, of course, to the fact that, as a newcomer, she was still able to pull more votes than incumbents Dave Stockdale and Florence Roberts.

However, Irwin really isn’t all that new.

At 73, she has been a visible force in the community, having co-founded Yukon’s Women in Trade and Technology and actively working with Yukon College and Skills Canada.

“I think it was because I have done a lot of work through nonprofits and the fact that I said the same thing throughout my campaign,” said Irwin, explaining why it is she thought she won.

Thursday evening, she opted to skip the fanfare and watch the results from home.

“My husband and I watched the results come in from a computer that was piped onto a television screen,” she said.

“We had to because the reception on the television was so bad.”

Of course, Irwin would know about televisions.

She was the first woman in Canada to be certified as a tradesperson in television and radio repair, an honour she chose to highlight in her election campaign.

It’s no secret that women’s issues are important to Irwin, who celebrated with a bottle of champagne on Thursday evening.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com