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Getting to know the candidates in Riverdale North

A small-business owner and a government archivist are up against the Liberal imcumbent
From right to left: Yukon Party candidate Cory Adams, Liberal incumbent Nils Clarke and NDP candidate Vanessa Thorson. (Submitted)

Riverdale North encompasses half the subdivision north of Lewes Boulevard and Peel Road. It contains F.H. Collins Secondary School, Selkirk Elementary School, Grey Mountain Cemetery and Long Lake Road up to the border of the Lake Laberge riding.

Nils Clarke of the Yukon Liberals claimed the seat in 2016 with 43.5 per cent of the vote, beating the NDP’s Rod Snow by 149 ballots. The Yukon Party’s Mark Beese collected 258 votes.

The Yukon Party claimed the Riverdale North seat in 2006 and 2011 with Ted Staffen and Scott Kent, respectively. Staffen won with 44 per cent of the vote and Kent won with 37 per cent.

Three candidates are running in the 2021 election. They have been profiled in alphabetical order.

Cory Adams - Yukon Party

Cory Adams has lived in the Yukon since 2001 and is the owner of Coyote Video and Ice Cream. He’s running for the Yukon Party on an education-focused platform, inspired by his four children — two of whom are school-aged. All four attended school in the Yukon.

“I’ve seen the difference between my kids — the adult kids and the kids in schools now — and I’ve seen the change,” Adams said, continuing that there has been a dip in opportunities and programming in recent years. Adams said he has aligned his campaign with the Yukon Party’s education recovery platform, which promises to enhance mental health access; address numeracy and literacy outcomes; promote computer literacy; and broaden experiential programming. The plan also promises to help kids who have fallen behind due to the pandemic and review financial supports for impacted scholarship recipients.

Adams is also running as an advocate for small business owners.

“I’m in a business that should be obsolete, and I have had to adapt to change … so I know what’s going on, I understand how they are and what they’re going through,” Adams said.

Adams said he chose to run for the Yukon Party because of his confidence in Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon.

“His experience, his leadership, I believe he’s going in the right direction,” Adams said.

Adams said he is focusing on education and traffic as hot-button issues for Riverdale North. He said that, if elected, he plans to liaison with the City of Whitehorse to address congestion issues.

Nils Clarke - Yukon Liberal Party

Nils Clarke is the incumbent Liberal candidate running for a second term in Riverdale North. He served as the 25th Speaker of the House and chair of the Members’ Services Board in the last Assembly.

Clarke has lived in Riverdale North for 29 years and raised his family in the constituency.

Prior to his election, Clarke practised law in the territory for 24 years. He spent the majority of that time with the Yukon Legal Services Society and was its executive director for 16 years.

Clarke says he has maintained the energy required to be a successful representative.

“I’m still inspired by this team, and I think it’s amazing, the new candidates who have come forward — I’m very excited by the young Indigenous candidates who I would love to be able to support if we’re granted a second mandate,” Clarke said.

The incumbent candidate said he’s hopeful the Liberals will win a second term in order to implement the Putting People First report, which will require a comprehensive overhaul of the Yukon’s health and social services.

Clarke also pledged follow-through on Our Clean Future, which includes a lengthy list of climate-focused goals.

“I’ve always been a strong proponent of green energy and renewable energy, and living in Riverdale, I want to promote active living and transportation,” Clarke said.

Clarke additionally prioritized education and housing for Riverdale North, which he says is a neighbourhood increasingly populated by young families.

“I will work tirelessly on that, because I want the next generation to succeed and enjoy everything that the Yukon has to offer,” Clarke said.

Vanessa Thorson - Yukon New Democratic Party

Vanessa Thorson has lived in the Yukon since 2007, and worked as a government archivist at the Yukon Archives for 12 years. In 2019, she began working at the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board as a records administrator. She has three children.

She’s running for the New Democratic Party with a platform of addressing gaps in education, housing and mental health support.

“I have always felt you have an obligation to contribute to your community, and this seemed like a good opportunity to do that,” Thorson said.

“During the pandemic, I realized there are a lot of gaps in our society, and I feel that I can make a difference to improve the lives of more people.”

Thorson hopes to see the education system improve with more flexibility to serve students with diverse learning abilities. She also wants to grow the housing stock to aid affordability.

She is additionally championing better mental health support, particularly for youth. She noted that speaking with her children and their friends, pandemic and climate anxiety seem on the rise.

“I feel optimistic, I always felt that there was a future, and these kids have a really dark side to it,” Thorson said, adding that she wants support to be readily available and destigmatized.

Thorson tagged education, traffic and housing as important issues for Riverdale North constituents.

She chose to run for the NDP as a long-time supporter of the party.

“I’m a supporter of the social justice aspect of the NDP, right from its roots. The idea of people first, that when you invest in people, that improves your economy and your community,” Thorson said.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at