Samson Hartland seeks return to city council

Samson Hartland is asking voters for a second term on city council, 12 years after he left office. The 36-year-old and father of three is currently the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

Samson Hartland is asking voters for a second term on city council, 12 years after he left office.

The 36-year-old and father of three is currently the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

Hartland, who previously served as Elaine Taylor’s executive assistant from 2011 to 2014, announced his candidacy yesterday morning.

He said he’s reached a point in his life, both personally and professionally, where it “feels right” to come back and contribute to the community.

“My maturity level over the past 15 years has evolved to a point where my perspectives are completely different than what they used to be,” he said.

Elected as a 21-year-old, Hartland served on council from 2000 to 2003.

He describes his younger self as someone who was fairly inexperienced, naive and wet behind the ears.

But through his positions at the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the government caucus, he’s had the opportunity to build new relationships and approach things with a “longer range focus in mind,” he said.

If elected, Hartland said he’d want to bring more transparency to city council.

He cited the Whistle Bend sports complex – an issue he’d bring back to the table – as one that could have benefited from more transparency.

“It wasn’t clear whether the city or the government would inherit the costs of this project,” he said.

“Yes, I’d be concerned about inheriting costs, but I weigh that against the benefits of having a facility like that in our community. When you look at it at face value, it’s just a zoning application.”

Hartland compared the situation to his first year on council, when the need for the Canada Games Centre was being hotly debated.

Back then, Hartland expressed concerns over the costs of the facility and whether the city could afford it, he said.

Now, he understands the benefits of the centre and what it offers to citizens of Whitehorse.

Hartland said he also wants to tackle tax increases and the impact they have on seniors and people with fixed incomes.

“You have builders of our community being pushed out of their homes because they can’t afford to pay the taxes anymore,” he said.

“If we have a positive and collaborative relationship with the Yukon government, maybe there’s an opportunity to talk about creative solutions around what the city needs in order to maintain the services it provides.”

During the summer of 2002 he made headlines after missing several council meetings, walking out of another and accusing his co-workers and a private citizen of conspiring to tear down the Sewell House.

Former mayor Ernie Bourassa challenged Hartland to quit council if the Yukon’s ombudsman cleared the city of wrongdoing – which it did.

But at the time Hartland said he hadn’t done anything to warrant his resignation.

Looking back, he said he doesn’t have any regrets about what happened that term, or what he said, and he still doesn’t think he should have resigned despite pressure to do so.

But he can offer an explanation for his behaviour that summer.

“The reality is I had a nervous breakdown,” he said.

“There was an immense amount of stress on me and I wasn’t in a good place. It was a very challenging time personally and professionally, and I didn’t have the skill set to handle that.

“If it wasn’t for the support of my family and close friends, I think I could have easily run out of this territory with my tail between my legs.”

But with that support, he says, he started the “rebuilding process” and began healing from those experiences.

He said he’s apologized to the people he accused over the years, and recognizes that he may not have handled himself as well as he could have.

“I was 21 back then, and I was called a kid. Today, I’m a father of three and have a much different perspective on things than I did back then.”

At least three council seats will be up for grabs on Oct. 15, as Mike Gladish and John Streicker have announced they will not be seeking another term.

Kirk Cameron’s seat was left vacant after he resigned in March.

Betty Irwin, Dave Stockdale and Jocelyn Curteanu are still uncertain about whether they plan to run for re-election or not.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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