Porter Creek North riding candidates for the territorial election in alphabetical order from left, Francis van Kessel (Wat.si) for the NDP, Geraldine Van Bibber for the Yukon Party and Staci McIntosh for the Liberals. (Submitted photos)

Porter Creek North riding candidates for the territorial election in alphabetical order from left, Francis van Kessel (Wat.si) for the NDP, Geraldine Van Bibber for the Yukon Party and Staci McIntosh for the Liberals. (Submitted photos)

Getting to know the candidates in Porter Creek North

New and familiar names are facing off in a Yukon Party stronghold

Part of the Porter Creek trio, the riding northwest of downtown Whitehorse includes Porter Creek, Crestview and Kulan. The area includes diverse types of housing that accommodate both young people and seniors.

Aside from the 2000 general election, in which Don Roberts took the riding with a large lead for the Liberals, Porter Creek North has consistently voted blue for the past 30 years. In the previous election the riding had a voter turnout of 65 per cent.

Three candidates are running in Porter Creek North this year, they are profiled alphabetically below.

Francis van Kessel (Wat.si) – Yukon New Democratic Party

Francis Van Kessel said important topics so far in this year’s campaign include healthcare and economic recovery.

In Porter Creek North she said she is also concerned about a local upgrade to the Alaska Highway and feels the current government has not consulted or communicated enough with people in the neighbourhood.

“That’s what I’ve been hearing at the door,” she said. “Why are we spending millions of dollars on a highway upgrade, when there’s people that need to be fed? And we need affordable housing, for purchase or for rent? But instead, we’re spending it on a highway?”

After working on a farm, Van Kessel said she’s also concerned about supporting farmers and building food security.

Van Kessel, who also has the name Wat.si, is a Teslin Tlingit citizen who grew up in the Yukon.

She ran in the 2016 election for Porter Creek North and came third with 15 per cent of the votes cast. She said she decided to run again because despite the loss, her first run for office changed her life.

“I was not successful, but the whole election changed my perspective on life. I realized that I need to make more of a difference in people’s lives, like everyday lives. It really opened my eyes on how many gaps there are in the system that I didn’t know,” she said.

Following her campaign, Van Kessel began working at Inclusion Yukon. She is also board representative for Yukon Registered Nurses Association, Paradise Music Festival and the Yukon NDP.

“We’re humans, we’re people. We live in the north. Let’s build community together.”

Geraldine Van Bibber – Yukon Party

Incumbent candidate Geraldine Van Bibber won the last election with 44 percent of the votes. Reflecting on her first four years, Van Bibber said she is seeking four more years because she enjoys being “in the heart of it.”

“I’m passionate about helping Yukoners. I’ve given to the community and to Yukon for as long as I can remember. It’s just in me. I love to be with people. I love being engaged,” she said.

Van Bibber is a former Commissioner of the Yukon Territory, member of the Gwichʼin First Nation, a recipient of the Order of Canada and a long-time resident of Porter Creek.

She said this year the constituents in her riding are concerned with core issues like housing, education, the economy and seniors issues in addition to how the territory will recover from the pandemic.

Van Bibber said she has heard concerns about interruptions to education and a recent lawsuit filed by the teacher’s union. She also said more and more people are concerned about being priced out of the housing market.

“People need affordable housing. If you are trying to get into the market, I sure wouldn’t want to be in a young person’s shoes right now. And even renting is costly,” she said, adding that the issue affects both people entering the market and seniors who are now paying their bills on a fixed income.

“I’ve run into about three already that are concerned, saying, ‘What am I going to do if electricity keeps going up? And property taxes keep going up? Can I do it by myself?’” she said.

Staci McIntosh – Yukon Liberal Party

As the owner of a business that was hit hardest by the pandemic, Staci McIntosh said the quick action of the Liberal government in protecting her livelihood inspired her to run for office.

“We are in a great place in the Yukon, because of the Liberal Party, as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

“That really resonated with me. I’ve worked with people for my whole career and it’s just another way for me to work with people. That’s why I decided [to run] because I do have a voice, I feel I’ve got a lot to say and I think I could be a strong voice for people of Porter Creek North,” she said.

“I think what makes a strong government is people from all different sectors. I mean if we all work together for a greater good I think that’s the point. I’d like to see all kinds of people come together and make a strong government for an amazing territory, I really feel strongly about that,” she said.

McIntosh is the co-owner of Head to Toe salon in downtown Whitehorse. When the pandemic started, her business was closed for nine weeks. Now that vaccines are out, she said many people are concerned with economic recovery.

She said she also believes environmental issues, relationships with First Nations and mental health care concerns are a priority.

“This has been hard for a lot of people. So those are issues out the door I’m hearing and those are ones close to my heart,” she said.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Election 2021

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