From left to right: NDP candidate Kaori Torigai, Yukon Party incumbent Scott Kent, Liberal candidate Sheila Robertson. (Submitted)

From left to right: NDP candidate Kaori Torigai, Yukon Party incumbent Scott Kent, Liberal candidate Sheila Robertson. (Submitted)

Getting to know the candidates in Copperbelt South

A Yukon Party incumbent is returning to the race with two opposing candidates

Winding it’s way through a long list of country residential neighbourhoods, the Copperbelt South riding is largely defined by City of Whitehorse boundaries with the riding reaching city limits to the west; south past the Cowley Creek subdivision; and a portion to the east including Spuce Hill subdivision.

The Yukon River separates the riding from Riverdale South and the Copperbelt North riding is north.

Stretching through the riding is the Alaska Highway, which serves as a major commuter route for many making their way in and out of the city centre from neighbourhoods like Whitehorse Copper, Wolf Creek, Mary Lake, and Pineridge to name a few. It is also home to Golden Horn Elementary School.

The riding is currently held by Yukon Party member Scott Kent, who won his seat in the 2016 election with 449 votes, a total of 24 ahead of Liberal candidate Jocelyn Curteanu. Kent is seeking reelection in the April 12 vote.

It was in 2016 that then-NDP incumbent Lois Moorcroft lost her seat, taking 331 votes. Moorcroft had previously held the then-Mt. Lorne riding, which included Copperbelt South, from 1992 until 2000.

Yukon Green Party candidate Phillippe LeBlond also sought the Copperbelt South seat in 2016, taking just 12 votes.

Three candidates are running in the 2021 election. They have been profiled in alphabetical order.

Scott Kent – Yukon Party

Incumbent Scott Kent described his work as the Copperbelt MLA as “extremely rewarding”, whether that’s helping an individual constituent with an issue they are facing, or working with neighbourhood associations in the riding or in other capacities.

It’s a job he wants to continue.

While Kent has been representing the Copperbelt South riding since 2016, prior to that he was elected as the Riverdale North MLA to the Yukon Party government in 2011. He has served in both cabinet and as an opposition critic.

Kent also served as a Liberal MLA from 2000 to 2002.

Kent said it’s the focus on fiscal responsibility as well as responsible resource development that drew him to the Yukon Party.

As the party continues focusing on the fiscal side and resource development, Kent said party leader Currie Dixon is also expanding that focus into other areas such as mental health, health care and more.

Kent doesn’t live in the riding, but his son attends Golden Horn Elementary School and he drives through the area every day, in addition to working with constituents.

Heading into the 2021 vote, Kent is hearing from many business owners who live in the riding concerned about post-pandemic planning and contracting.

The riding is home to RV parks, which have been hit by the impacts COVID-19 has had on tourism. Kent said many are wondering when rules around gatherings, travel and tourism will change.

The Yukon Party has unveiled its own post-pandemic plan that would see a number of measures aimed at restarting the economy. Among others, there would be a fall tendering schedule for the following year’s construction season, Kent pointed out.

“The Yukon Party will provide certainty and work with contractors to give them time to plan for the future so they can continue to create jobs and invest in our communities,” Kent said in announcing the changes to tendering.

Sheila Robertson – Yukon Liberal Party

It was a friend’s suggestion that she run for office which got Sheila Robertson thinking about it.

After a couple of days of talking to friends and her family who encouraged her, she decided to put her name in the Liberal hat to represent Copperbelt South, a riding she knows well after 12 years of living in Mary Lake.

It’s an area where many who call it home enjoy a lifestyle and more privacy that’s not as easily available in the more urban parts of the city.

“We live out there for a reason,” Robertson said.

With her own children and grandchildren in the territory, she has a strong interest in the territory’s future.

Over the years, Robertson said she has voted largely based on the individual candidates and how well their message resonates with her at that time.

In 2016, it was the Liberal message that resonated with her and since last year she said she’s been impressed with how the governing Liberals have assisted small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic through a number of programs.

Robertson has owned and operated a number of small businesses over the years, including the Neighbourhood Pup dog groomers and Hello Gorgeous hair styling.

Robertson wants to take the skills she gained as a business owner to work as her riding’s MLA.

Listening to people and addressing their concerns are part of that.

“It would be a privilege to serve,” she said, noting that while there’s a few riding-specific issues that have come up at the door (an expansion to Golden Horn Elementary, for example), overall many seem content with how things are moving forward at the territorial level.

Work on the Alaska Highway, as well as improvements to mental health services are all part of the Liberal’s plan, she said.

Kaori Torigai – Yukon New Democratic Party

Candidate Kaori Torigai wants more accountability in government and believes in the vision NDP leader Kate White has for the territory.

“I want to do the right things for the right reasons,” she said, adding the NDP plan balances economic, environmental and social needs of the territory.

Wanting to be part of the NDP vision for the territory, when the party was looking for a candidate to run in Copperbelt South, Torigai put her name forward.

She said she already knew a number of people in the riding.

Going door-to-door, she said while there are some local issues such as the importance of protecting the area’s green space, the major issues coming up among constituents are the same that are dominating other ridings in the territory — housing affordability and improved health care top the list.

“All things that haven’t been addressed yet,” she argued, emphasizing that the NDP would have a solid plan in place for the future and act on it.

The NDP would work with people, collaborate and act on the plans that are developed.

“Planning and doing; making properly informed decisions,” as Torigai described.

She described the 2021 vote as an opportunity to shape government and make a difference.

Over the years, she has worked in the public, non-profit and private sector and owned her own business – the Social House. She’s volunteered with local theatre groups and also works as an actor and costume designer.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Election 2021

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