Seven candidates are vying for four council seats in Mayo this election, promising to wake the municipality from a long electoral slumber.
Mayor and council have been acclaimed for several municipal elections. The last time a councillor had to run for office was during a byelection in 2004.
Mayor Scott Bolton’s seat is still safe, but several new council contenders are looking to shake things up.
“I think we need a little bit of a change,” said incumbent candidate Kris Pavlovich. “This old council’s been here too long.”
But Pavlovich, who is seeking his second-and-a-half term, shouldn’t be considered a part of that “old council,” he said.
“I’m one of the good guys,” he added with a laugh.
For fellow incumbent Dick Ewing, the decision to seek re-election was made because of a few projects that aren’t done yet.
“We want to finish a new fire hall and probably get a senior’s complex done,” said Ewing, who has served on the village council for nearly two decades. “In the last terms we built the school, we built the new community hall, curling rink and then we built a blue box (recycling plant) and a bunch of other things. We just decided we would try and get this done in the next three years and then someone else can take over. I’m going to run one more term and then we’re done.”
Newcomers Jo-Ann Aird and Bill Leary have put their names forward for the first time.
Both say they just want to give back to their community.
“I’m hoping to make a little bit of a difference,” said Aird, the village’s school secretary, who is an aboriginal woman originally from Ontario. She has lived in Mayo, on and off, for 31 years.
“I’m hoping to bring some fresh blood to it. I’m not going in with any preconceived notions. But I want to learn.”
Leary, who works as a senior mining inspector with the territory, sees a term on council as a simple chance to help out.
“We’ve had a few years of acclamation, it seemed like there was a change coming, it’s an opportunity to put back a little into the community, nothing very complicated,” he said.
If elected, this would be Blair Andre’s first time as a village councillor, although he has run twice before.
Andre already wears many other hats in Mayo. He’s the coroner and chair of the renewable resource council and recreation board. He’s also involved with the rangers, and throughout his 30 years in Mayo, he’s served as the fire chief and sat on school council.
He’s seeking a spot on council to help continue the “positive progress” the village has already been making under Bolton’s leadership, he said.
Like in other communities, he sees housing and waste management as Mayo’s biggest challenges. But solutions will only come by working with the territory. For example, to meet housing demands, the community needs more land made available, he said.
Pavlovich, who is promoting himself, Aird and Leary as a perfect team for council, says there is also work to be done within the village’s administration.
“I’d like to be a little more open to the public,” he said. “I think we have some management issues we need to deal with. We lost one of our key employees a few years ago. Scott, the mayor, he’s got a lot of experience with governments and dealing with stuff like that, so I think we just need to help him out a little bit.”
Pavlovich also wants to see the community become more involved in municipal issues.
“Unless you put a power saw or a meal or something out on the table for prizes or something, it’s hard to get people out. I don’t know if maybe there’s just too much going on.”
But despite the challenges, Pavlovich is the first to sing his community’s praises.
“We’re never in the red,” he said of Mayo’s finances and savings. And the community’s taken a real “green” turn, he said. First, there’s the brand new recycling plant/free store. And the community has stopped spraying for mosquitoes.
Instead, Mayo has embarked on several eco-friendly ways to keep the mosquitoes at bay, like sparrow houses, subsidized mosquito machines and solvents that drop into surrounding slews in hockey-puck-like containers to kill larvae, he said.
Mayo is “so far ahead of a lot of communities,” said Mayor Bolton, who also drives a school bus and manages the liquor store.
“It’s a pretty well-kept secret,” he said, listing the barrage of new infrastructure in the community, including new drinking water wells and renovated sewer lines. “Nobody’s waving any flags, it’s just a bunch of working guys, you know? We’re out of the way. Nobody comes to Mayo, everyone turns at Stewart and goes to Dawson. We’re kind of left alone.”
Bolton first came to Mayo from Faro, after the mine shut down. He’s stayed put ever since and describes the community as a true small town that, except for a “few buttheads,” is still a place where people rarely lock their doors.
Mining companies that have started work nearby, like Alexco Resources and Victoria Gold, have added to that community feel, he said.
“They’ve been a real godsend,” he said, noting that a bus goes to Alexco’s mine full of workers every day and that both companies are active in the community, helping to raise funds that bought an ultrasound machine and palliative care bed.
“It helps us build the community. It’s been really good for us,” said Bolton.
Solid waste management is Mayo’s biggest challenge, after burning garbage became illegal, he said. Something like an incinerator just isn’t practical for a small community, said Bolton.
Another challenge is keeping small businesses in town. But that’s been a reality ever since the big box stores came to Whitehorse and the highway became so smooth, he said.
Incumbent Trevor Ellis and newcomer Steve Therriault are also running for village council. Michael McGinnis is retiring his seat on the four-person council. Elections are on Oct. 18.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at