Former Yukon News editor Peter Lesniak is planning to run for the New Democratic Party in the next territorial election.
Lesniak announced his intention to seek the NDP nomination in Riverdale South at the party’s annual convention Saturday.
“Since leaving the Yukon News, I’ve been working for the caucus, and I’ve seen politics from the inside and I like what I see,” Lesniak said Wednesday.
“I like my colleagues here in the NDP caucus, and I like Todd Hardy and some of the things he’s trying to do.
“I guess I’ve got the politics bug.”
The NDP has never won Riverdale South, which is currently held by Community Services minister Glenn Hart.
“I think there is a lot of anti-Yukon Party sentiment, and of course the Liberal leader is untested, unproven; he’s an unknown factor,” said Lesniak.
“We have to do some recruiting of members in the area and give other possible candidates an opportunity to come forward.
“Then we’ll hold a nomination meeting.”
There are several potential candidates from opposition parties who have thrown their hats into the ring of what promises to be an intense three-way race that could begin any day.
Philip Treusch, a crime prevention administrator and former prison guard, will seek the Yukon Liberal Party nomination to face off against Hart and Lesniak in Riverdale South.
“I haven’t handed my papers over to the Liberal Party yet, but I intend to do that later today,” Treusch said Wednesday.
“I hope to assist in re-kindling some interest in politics. I’m very concerned that some people have stepped back from political things, in effect saying, ‘What can you do?’”
Treusch and Dale Cheeseman, a supervisor with the Youth Achievement Centre, work together on the Yukon youth investment fund committee.
Both were intrigued enough by Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell’s stand on ethics to put their names forward as Liberal nominees.
“(Mitchell) is doing a good job and has high ethical standards,” said Cheeseman, who intends to run for the Liberals in Porter Creek North, which is currently held by Economic Development minister Jim Kenyon.
“I’m honest, I have good integrity, I have high ethics, and I think that needs to be brought back into the legislature,” Cheeseman said Tuesday.
“Right across the country there are questions about faith in politicians, and it’s right here at home, and I’d like to help rebuild that public trust.”
Jorn Meier, a former chair of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, has already won the NDP nomination for the Klondike.
And veteran Yukon Quest musher Frank Turner has filed his papers to seek the NDP nomination for Lake Laberge.
“I care about what happens in this territory,” said Turner.
“We have almost $1 billion a year to improve the well-being of the territory, and there is a lot of question about how that money is being used.
“I take fiscal management extremely seriously.”
Parties typically hold nomination meetings involving members from each riding who elect a candidate with a first-past-the-post ballot or acclaim an uncontested nominee.
Leaders can also appoint candidates or expedite the nomination process, especially in a snap election.
The Yukon Party, which currently holds a majority at 10 seats, has yet to announce any hopefuls or hold any nomination meetings.
“We are in a process of identification that kicked off after the annual general meeting took place,” said party president Dan MacDonald, who was elected at the meeting in March.
“There’s no one sort of waiting in the wings as of right now,” MacDonald said Tuesday.
“It’s up to each party to hold nomination meetings when they want. We want to make sure we’ve got everything in order and ready to go, and then have constituencies sort out when they want to hold the nomination meetings.
“We’re definitely getting into the season for it.
“It’s wise to get candidates out there earlier rather than later, so they can have the summer to work with the constituency and get some publicity and get their names known and find out what the constituency wants to have in a candidate.”
Premier Dennis Fentie, leader of the Yukon Party, has until November 11 before the legislative assembly officially dissolves.
Fentie must call an election by then and trigger a 31-day election race, although a technicality of Yukon law allows the territory to operate without the assembly sitting for up to a year, minus one day.