Doris Bill has been elected to a second term as chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation.
Bill won the March 15 election with 193 votes, 43 per cent of the total ballots counted.
“It was, I think, a well-fought election,” Bill told the News the morning after the polls closed. “We had a good ground game and I had a great team. And we worked hard — at one point I was on three cell phones at once.”
Kwanlin Dun citizens also elected six councillors on Wednesday: Dennis Calbery, Charles Chief, Jessie Dawson, Howard MacIntosh, Sean Smith and Ray Sydney. Seventeen candidates campaigned for the six seats.
Bill said the fact that four councillors are incumbents — Calbery, Dawson, MacIntosh and Smith — will help her to hit the ground running.
“We don’t have to go through an extensive orientation with the entire council, which is great,” Bill said. “I think that’ll help immensely.”
Bill defeated four other candidates vying to be chief, including former councillor Charlene Charlie, who came in second with 112 votes, followed by Ray Webb, Buck Smarch and Jason Charlie.
She said it was a difficult campaign at times, but she has tried to be approachable and to maintain an open-door policy.
“You come to realize that there is a certain segment in the community that I may never be able to bring on board. It doesn’t matter what you do,” she said. “But I still am extending an olive branch to whoever was not happy with the outcome of the election.”
Bill campaigned on a legacy of promoting community safety. Under her leadership, the First Nation created a pilot program with the Yukon government to allow citizens to report crimes and safety concerns to officers hired from the community. She says the number of calls to the RCMP has dropped since the program was launched.
Looking ahead, Bill said her new government will continue to work on safety initiatives and economic development.
Kwanlin Dun has been working with the Yukon government to establish a land registry that would allow the First Nation to register settlement land without losing aboriginal title. Registering property should make it easier for First Nations to build commercial or residential developments on their land.
Since the First Nation is the largest landowner in Whitehorse, the land registry “will allow us to develop our land to its full potential,” Bill said.
Chief returning officer Norman Eady said there are about 848 Kwanlin Dun citizens who are eligible to vote, of whom 453 — 53 per cent — cast ballots on Wednesday. That’s similar to the last election in 2014, when voter turnout was 54 per cent.
Through the election campaign, Bill said, she heard about certain things that need to improve, including communication with Kwanlin Dun citizens living outside the territory.
“But those are things that we can fix and we can work on,” she said. “I just have a lot of work to do, but I’m proud to do it.”
Contact Maura Forrest at firstname.lastname@example.org