Rick Karp says it’s his time to be mayor.
On July 31, he’ll step down as president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, a position he has held for 14 years.
“I have done all I can for the chamber at this point and it’s time to turn it over to new leadership, for new energy to come into place and take over after the 14 years,” Karp said at a press conference outside the chamber July 26. “But I’m not leaving Whitehorse. Today I want to announce my candidacy to become mayor of Whitehorse.”
Karp is the third person to announce their candidacy, joining current mayor Dan Curtis and Wilf Carter, former chief administrative officer of Teslin.
Karp previously ran for mayor in 2012. At the time, he placed second with 20 per cent of the vote. Curtis won with 43 per cent. Also running were Bernie Phillips, Scott Howell and Mandeep Sidhu.
“The other side of that campaign was I was a caregiver for my wife” who died of cancer last year, said Karp. “And so I realized two or three weeks before the end of that campaign … that Joy was decreasing in her health, that it wouldn’t have worked very well…. Now, Joy has passed away and it’s time. It’s my time now.”
Karp said he will focus on affordable housing, homelessness, and supporting local businesses. He said he’d also like to work with the Yukon government to develop a two-year supply of lots available for building.
As well, he’d like to see responsibility for local tourism come back under control of the city of Whitehorse rather than the Yukon government.
While Karp said he thinks there needs to be better teamwork between council and administration, he also said he thinks the city is in good shape.
“We live in Whitehorse and quite honestly I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. As mayor of Whitehorse I would concentrate on a number of key areas for making us even stronger than we are now and preparing the city for the expansion that is forecast for us.
“I would build on the relationship and good work done so far with the (Kwanlin Dün First Nation) and (Ta’an Kwach’an Council) on housing first, the Safe at Home initiative and on the partnership that the city’s developed between the city and the First Nations.”
Finally, Karp said he thinks there needs to be greater transparency at the city. He wouldn’t comment on whether or not he supported the recent suggestion of Diane McLeod-McKay, Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Yukon, to subject municipalities to the Access to Information and Prottection of Privacy Act. Her suggestion came on the heels of the recent city recommendation suggesting the use of drones to enforce some bylaws.
“I’d have to look at it,” he said of the ATIPP Act. “We don’t have the level of transparency or openness as we would like to see over at the city.”
Karp told media one of the reasons he lost in 2012 was political interference. He then alleged that members of the Yukon Party and the Liberal Party were backing Curtis and paying for things. Karp didn’t elaborate on what those things were.
The Yukon Party didn’t respond to questions about Karp’s statement.
In an email, Liberal Party president Devin Bailey said the party has never endorsed or supported a candidate in a municipal election campaign, and that includes the 2012 election.
“Members of our party were part of Mr. Curtis’s campaign team, as were members of other territorial parties,” Bailey wrote. “Our party members are free to participate in (municipal) election campaigns and support candidates.”
In a follow-up interview, Karp said he had no proof of any of the allegations. He said he had heard about Yukon Party support for Curtis from a member of the Yukon Party. He clarified that he didn’t, in fact, hear about Liberal support for Curtis from any member of the Liberal Party. He also retracted the statement that members of either party had paid for anything related to the 2012 election.
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