Former Whitehorse city councillor Ranj Pillai has announced he is seeking the Liberal nomination in Porter Creek South during the upcoming territorial election.
“My time on city council was an incredibly fulfilling experience, and it is with that same work ethic and dedication that I wish to move forward and to represent the people of Porter Creek South,” he said during an announcement on Thursday.
Pillai made his announcement near the contentious Porter Creek D site. The possible development of that area was the subject of heavy debate during his time on city council. The plans were eventually shelved after residents voiced their opposition to construction around McIntyre Creek.
Back in 2011, Pillai was among the councillors who voted against the development of the site.
“I rallied with the community members to delay and refocus plans for the area,” he said. “During the time, I experienced first-hand the sense of community and values that the citizens of this riding stood for.”
During his stint as councillor, Pillai also helped bring Hockey Day in Canada to Whitehorse in 2011.
But Pillai announced he was leaving city politics ahead of the 2012 municipal election, saying he needed to spend more time with his two young sons.
Now, he says things have changed.
“I think they’re at the right age now,” he said. “At this point, they’re excited.”
Pillai has been involved with the Yukon Liberals since 2004, and was the party’s president in 2007, 2008 and 2015.
Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected last fall, he said, he’s sensed new excitement about the Liberals across the country.
“There’s certainly a sense of hope around how the country’s changing and I hope that that resonates here in the territory.”
Pillai is currently the executive director for the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, but will not be involved in any intergovernmental work during his campaign.
He has previously held senior roles with Northern Vision Development and Yukon College.
He has also been a director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon, the Youth of Today Society and the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.
Pillai lives in the Mountainview riding, not in Porter Creek South. He said he chose not to run in his home riding because former city councillor Mike Gladish is already seeking the Liberal nomination there, and the nomination will likely be contested.
“That field’s about to become much more filled,” he explained.
Pillai said his older son attends Porter Creek Secondary School, and he’s been a volunteer coach there for the last 15 years.
But Porter Creek South is also contested. Pillai will be up against Russ Hobbis, another Liberal contender who announced his campaign back in January.
“I’m weeks behind,” Pillai said. “I have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of doors to knock on and I have a lot of listening to do.”
Porter Creek South is currently held by Health Minister Mike Nixon, who narrowly beat out Liberal candidate Don Inverarity in 2011.
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