The race for council has taken a racist turn.
Monday, one of Kirn Dhillon’s campaign signs was defaced with racial graffiti.
The vandals drew a turban on his head, a beard on his face and crossed out his first name replacing it with what looks to be a reference to Osama Bin Laden.
Dhillon, who was born in Whitehorse, but is of South Asian decent, is taking the vandalism in stride.
“I don’t think this is representative of Whitehorse as a community,” he said. “I’d probably be more offended if I was a Muslim.”
Dhillon, whose parents hail from Punjab, India, was raised as a Sikh. But he’s not particularly religious or observant, he said.
“It was probably some kids who thought they were being clever, but they’re just showing their ignorance,” said Dhillon.
The defaced sign was taken down and replaced.
“I guess it was a risk, putting my face on the posters, but I’d do it again,” he said. “I don’t think I should have to hide my racial identity.”
He’s not the only one who is facing some last-minute campaign difficulties.
Linda Bonnefoy could be disqualified as a candidate over an unpaid bill from the city.
Under Whitehorse bylaws anyone who owes bills or fines to the city in excess of $500 is ineligible to hold municipal office.
It doesn’t stop them from running, but if they win they can’t take the seat, said Robert Fendrick, the city’s manager of administrative services.
On Monday, Bonnefoy said she received notice from the city she owed $900 in unpaid business licences.
The licence was for a daycare that she said has been closed for two years.
“They renewed the business notice without notifying me,” she said. “What they’re trying to do is illegal.”
She claims the city told her she would have to pay the bill before the election.
But anyone in that situation would just have to prove the business no longer existed and the charge would be waived, said Fendrick.
The polls open Thursday.
There are more than 11,000 eligible voters.
How many of those people will actually cast a ballot is anyone’s guess, said Norma Felker, the election returning officer.
“Traditionally, there isn’t a huge turnout for the byelection,” she said.
Only 20 per cent of the electorate cast a ballot in the last byelection.
Felker is hopeful that this time more will vote.
“We had a really good turnout from the advance poll,” she said. “And there’s been a lot of interest in this election.”
There are 13 candidates all running for just one seat in this byelection. They are Murray Martin, Pat Berrel, Norm Hamilton, Mike Tribes, Harry Hrebien, Kirn Dhillon, Cam Kos, Linda Bonnefoy, Kirk Cameron, Ted Lambert, Patrick Singh, Duke Connelly and Martin Lehner.
In the 2009 municipal election, when all seats were up for grabs, there were 14 people running.
The city didn’t have time to enumerate everyone, but those not on the list don’t have to worry, said Felker.
All you have to do is provide one piece of photo ID to cast a ballot.
That’s a far cry from the recent territorial election.
Those who missed the enumeration not only had to provide two pieces of ID, but also had to bring along a neighbour to vouch for them.
“(Voters) won’t have to go through all the bells and whistles they did for the territorial election,” said Felker.
Even those without valid photo ID can still vote, they just have to swear an oath.
However, people do have to make sure to vote where they are listed, she said.
Those lists should be posted in all city buildings, but even if you can’t find your name on the list it’s not very hard to find out where to vote.
There are only two polling stations.
Anyone who lives below the escarpment on the southeastern end of the city can cast their ballots at the High Country Inn Ballroom.
Those living above the escarpment, in the northwest and northeast ends of the city, should go to the Takhini Arena to vote.
Both polling stations open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. tomorrow.
Contact Josh Kerr at