Former councillor seeks mayor’s job

Bernie Phillips says there are three reasons why you should vote for him as mayor: experience, experience and experience. Phillips served on city council between 1994 and 2000, and he said that experience helped him to learn exactly how the city works.

Bernie Phillips says there are three reasons why you should vote for him as mayor: experience, experience and experience.

Phillips served on city council between 1994 and 2000, and he said that experience helped him to learn exactly how the city works, and what it takes to run it.

At that time, the city was just recognizing the importance of environmental legislation to keep residents safe and secure, Phillips said.

As a councillor he helped legislate wood-stove emissions, move sewage to a bigger lagoon so that it would no longer run into the river, and initiate recycling measures, among a long list of other actions taken over that period.

The key to effective leadership is communication, said Phillips.

The mayor has to facilitate good communication among the city councillors and administrators, but also has to develop effective ways of keeping the public informed.

He learned from experience that if you start trying to make changes without letting people know who will be affected by it, you’re going to run into trouble.

“That’s always the problem,” said Phillips. “You start something, you do things, as soon as you get to stage one, OK, here we go, we’re at the first reading of the bylaw, and people come forward and go, ‘Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t know about that.’ It’s always the case.”

With all the communication and social media tools available, there’s no excuse for the city to not keep its residents better informed, said Phillips.

Mayor and council should be able to “target people who it is specifically going to affect and say, ‘Warning: this is happening. Let us know what you think now. Come and tell us now so we can make a good decision,’” said Phillips.

Phillips came to Whitehorse in 1976 to visit a friend and never left.

It was a “Wild West” back then, he said.

Phillips has worked as a carpenter, musician and actor in the territory.

He worked extensively with the local arts community, and helped to establish the Frostbite Music Festival, the Guild Hall and the Yukon Arts Centre.

Since 1998 he has operated a downtown guest house with his wife, Pam.

The ability to make tourists feel welcome is another essential quality in a mayor, Phillips said.

This is the fifth time that he has put his name on the ballot for the city’s top job.

He tried twice before he was a councillor, and his friends all told him to try for city council first, and get the experience he needs.

He tried twice again after his stint on council, and has also run twice for the territorial legislature unsuccessfully.

It’s his commitment to serving the public that keeps him going, Phillips said.

“I’ve committed myself over a long time and shown that I’m serious about it.”

Phillips said he will not accept financial donations to his campaign. He suggests a donation to Habitat for Humanity or the food bank instead.

“If you want to help me put up signs or do some door-knocking, great,” he said. “Come on with me. If you want to put some blood, sweat and tears into it, I could use the help.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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