Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North, is hoping to run for re-election in Copperbelt South during this year’s territorial election.
Kent, who is minister for Energy, Mines and Resources and for Highways and Public Works, made the announcement during the Yukon Party’s annual general meeting over the weekend.
He said he has sold his house in Riverdale, and plans to move with his family to Marsh Lake in June.
“It was a difficult decision. I enjoy Riverdale,” he told the News on Monday. “I’ve lived in the Yukon for over 40 years, and most of that time has been spent in Riverdale.”
Kent is moving to the Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes riding, but is seeking the party’s nomination to run in Copperbelt South. He said he made the decision not to run in his new home riding because there are other Yukon Party members already interested in becoming the candidate for Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes.
“I wanted to respect that,” he said. “I’m not aware of anyone else that’s seeking the Yukon Party nomination (in Copperbelt South), so that’s why we made the decision.”
Kent pointed out that there is no rule in Yukon’s Elections Act that requires candidates to run in the riding they live in.
Copperbelt South is adjacent to Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes, and Kent said he’ll be able to spend more time there than in Riverdale North, his current riding.
He said he has a number of family members and longtime friends who live in Copperbelt South, and he plans to send his son to kindergarten at Golden Horn Elementary School in 2017.
“There’s a number of issues I think that will be familiar to me, and I’m looking forward to banging on some doors out there and learning about some of the other issues that are important to the people out there,” he said.
Copperbelt South is currently held by NDP MLA Lois Moorcroft, who launched her re-election campaign in March. She won the riding by just three votes over Yukon Party candidate Valerie Boxall in 2011.
Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes is held by NDP MLA Kevin Barr, who is also seeking re-election. Liberal candidate John Streicker is also campaigning in that riding.
But Kent said the competition had no bearing on his decision to run in Copperbelt South instead of Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes.
For her part, Moorcroft seemed to welcome the new challenge during an interview on Monday.
“Bring it on,” she said. “I’ve never taken anything for granted during my long career as an elected official.”
Moorcroft said that where Kent lives won’t be his biggest concern during this election campaign.
“The real challenge that Scott’s going to face is that he will have to defend the track record of the Yukon Party government,” she said. “Just in the past three years, we’ve seen economic decline, constant overspending and priorities that don’t reflect the needs of Copperbelt South residents.”
She referred to the functional plan for the Whitehorse corridor of the Alaska Highway, which has received a lukewarm reaction from the public. She pointed out that Kent is the minister responsible for that file, while she has acted as critic for Highways and Public Works.
Kent was elected to Riverdale North in 2011. He previously served as a Liberal MLA from 2000 to 2002, when he lost to Archie Lang of the Yukon Party.
Kent said the Yukon Party government has “accomplished quite a bit” in Riverdale during his time as MLA, including construction of the new F.H. Collins school, the opening of a new ambulance station and the ongoing expansion of the Whitehorse General Hospital.
He said a few people expressed interest in running in Riverdale North during the annual general meeting, though no one has made a public announcement to date.
Premier Darrell Pasloski will be leading the Yukon Party into the next territorial election, since his leadership underwent a successful review over the weekend. The other Yukon Party MLAs have yet to announce whether they plan to seek re-election.
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