Many Whitehorse city councillors undecided about seeking new term

Half of the current members of city council are still on the fence about whether they will seek another term or call it quits.

Half of the current members of city council are still on the fence about whether they will seek another term or call it quits.

Betty Irwin, Dave Stockdale and Jocelyn Curteanu said they need a bit more time to decide before the Sept. 24 deadline.

“I still don’t have an answer,” Irwin said this week, when asked about her plans.

First elected to council in 2009, Irwin was the second-highest vote getter in the 2012 election with 2,537 votes.

Dave Stockdale has served 11 consecutive terms on city council. Asked about his plans earlier this month, he said he was enjoying his summer and still wasn’t sure.

“I’ll make my decision on Sept. 1,” he told the News yesterday.

Curteanu, who is currently on holiday, said she’s enjoyed her time as a councillor and the work that has been accomplished this term. She made history in 2012 by becoming the first person of Filipino descent to sit on council. She said in an email she would make her decision shortly after returning from vacation.

Both Mike Gladish and John Streicker have announced they won’t be seeking another term.

Gladish cited time commitments as a big reason. Serving on council, despite being a part-time job, is like having another full-time job some weeks, he said.

And balancing those requirements – particularly reading and research – with work and family commitments is taxing, he said.

Gladish received 1,534 votes in the 2012 election, only two more than Roslyn Woodcock.

“It’s a very worthwhile thing to do and I encourage anybody to try it,” he said.

“But be prepared for a steep learning curve in the first year.”

Councillors have to spend upwards of 30 hours a week familiarizing themselves with policies, procedures and responsibilities, Gladish said, and have to be prepared to listen to facts and opinions they may not necessarily agree with.

“Anybody who has one item on their agenda, or who thinks they are going to change the world, will be quite frustrated.”

John Streicker, who announced in July that he would be seeking a Liberal nomination in next year’s territorial election, said it was a hard decision to leave municipal politics.

He said he was still interested in putting his name forward for a second term on council but felt that territorial politics “needs more help.”

Streicker received just under 3,000 votes in the 2012 election, more than anyone else.

Serving on council was a very rewarding experience, he said, and one that gives you a sense of responsibility and contribution.

But it comes with a fair share of challenges too, he added.

“You’re never not a city councillor,” Streicker said.

“And it gets hard when you have people online who encourage others to hassle our families, that happened once during our term. We felt it’s completely fair to express those views to us but we didn’t think people should be criticizing our families.”

During his time on council, Streicker said he discovered something that he hadn’t anticipated – that it was all right to lose a debate, or a decision, as long as everybody was being diligent and doing their best.

“I came away from that feeling like democracy was served.”

Some of the tougher times on council included the Mount Sima debates, he said, as well as the Whistle Bend soccer complex discussions and the decision to fire former city manager Stan Westby in Sept. 2013.

But he said he’s especially proud of the fact that he and his peers made an important decision at the very beginning of their term, one to always engage in respectful debate with each other.

Dan Curtis said he’s throwing his hat in the ring for a second term as mayor of Whitehorse.

“This is the best job ever, and the most rewarding position I’ve ever held in my life,” he said.

After a challenging first year in which he came in “gobsmacked,” he said he feels more equipped to serve another three years, and has more to offer than when he was elected in 2012.

Curtis said he’s most proud of the significant increase in ridership on public transportation over the past few years, as well as the work council has accomplished alongside the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, such as the vulnerable people forum held in April.

He said if he’s not elected in October, he’ll encourage the next mayor and council to keep holding town hall-style meetings every month.

The municipal election will be held on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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