Mayoral race heats up

Dan Curtis is running for mayor of Whitehorse. Although he's never held municipal office before, after seven years as the executive director of Skills Canada, he feels ready for the job.

Dan Curtis is running for mayor of Whitehorse.

Although he’s never held municipal office before, after seven years as the executive director of Skills Canada, he feels ready for the job.

“I think I bring a lot of attributes that the city needs,” he said.

Getting all levels of government working together is the only way to meet the challenges the city faces, said Curtis.

“The biggest problem is … we’re not all rowing the boat in the same direction,” he said.

He’s confident that once everyone is at the table, solutions to issues like housing, snow removal and curb-side recycling can be found.

“When you sit around the table with different stakeholders and engage people, it’s pretty neat how you can get some unlikely partnerships to really create some unbelievable results,” he said.

To provide more revenue for municipal coffers, and the local economy, Curtis hopes to unlock some of the city’s untapped tourism potential.

“I really do love it here,” he said. “I think it’s the best place on earth.

“We have the product, we just have to market it and sell it.”

While this is the first time Curtis has run for municipal office, it isn’t the first time the married father of two has dabbled in politics.

Last fall he made an unsuccessful run for a seat in the territorial legislature, as the Liberal candidate in the riding of Riverdale South.

During that campaign he found that the issues the public felt strongest about, and the ones that he had the most interest in, were municipal rather than territorial.

“I kind of recognized early on that if you’re going to make a difference in the lives of people from Whitehorse it’s really on the municipal level,” he said. “I think that affects everyone’s life in a very personal way, in a very fundamental way.”

The one thing he hopes to accomplish with his campaign SEnD even if he doesn’t win SEnD is to get more voters out to the polls.

In last year’s byelection only 19 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot. And only 37 per cent of voters came out for the full municipal election four years ago.

It’s the result of complacency, said Curtis. Something that happens when people feel that their voices are not being heard.

“It makes me really sad to see different parts of the world and see how much they’ve done to have democracy,” he said. “We’re not really living up to that.

“I think a 30-some per cent turnout is pretty poor for a small community like us.”

His plan to combat that complacency is to engage voters personally.

“I’m going to try to reach out to as many people as I possibly can, through as many avenues as I can,” he said. “We really have to open up our ears, our hearts and our minds to hear what the citizens of Whitehorse really want, what’s important to them, and then go from there.”

With the current mayor, Bev Buckway, not seeking another term in office, that leaves only Curtis and Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce president Rick Karp vying for the job at the moment. Only one candidate, Conrad Tiedeman, has thrown his hat into the ring for a seat on city council.

Elections are scheduled for Oct. 18.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com