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Papatsie wins close race for council
Voter turnout for municipal byelection far lower than territorial election

Myles Dolphin
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 4, 2013

Iqaluit city council is back to full strength after filling a seat left vacant for more than six months.

Noah Papatsie was elected as the city's eighth councillor following a municipal byelection held on the same night as the territorial election, Oct. 28.

The seat had been left vacant since the late Jimmy Kilabuk resigned from council on April 9.

Papatsie received 384 votes, narrowly beating runner-up and former city councilor Stephen Mansell, who received 364 votes.

Turnout for the vote was remarkably low at 33 per cent, with only 1,241 residents casting ballots, said Iqaluit returning officer Kirt Ejesiak.

The new member of council, who celebrated the victory by enjoying a country food feast with relatives, is excited to get started and tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

"I'm still in awe," he said.

"I am looking forward to meeting the rest of council. Challenges are not barriers."

Papatsie, who finished third in the mayoral race last year, lost his sight several years ago following an accident.

He said he's looking forward to addressing the issues and concerns of Iqalummiut with disabilities.

Councillor Mary Wilman believes Papatsie's addition is beneficial because it provides balanced representation within council.

"He understands the community, having been involved in its development," she said.

"He has first-hand knowledge of the culture and understands what people with disabilities are losing out on."

Papatsie said one of his goals is to create a disability committee.

"I'm sure it would take a load off some people and allow them to focus on other things," he said.

Mayor John Graham said he is "proud, happy and thrilled" Papatsie will be sworn in as an Iqaluit councillor on Nov. 4.

Graham said he's known Papatsie since the latter was a cadet back in the mid 1980s.

"He was a great young leader," Graham said in an e-mail.

"I'm sure that Noah will make a great contribution to the Iqaluit city council and I know that he is up to the challenge. We are looking forward to his swearing-in ceremony which will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 on the ground floor of the courthouse."

Graham added Papatsie had already attended two public meetings as councillor-elect, merely 48 hours after the election.

Coun. Kenny Bell said having the eighth seat filled is great because it will allow council to make quorum more often.

"It also lends to a more interesting vote where the mayor might actually have to make a decision and break a tie," he said in an e-mail.

"All four candidates had good ideas and were pretty much in line with what council is already doing. Noah's passion and perseverance stood out to me, and I really look forward to working with him."

The other two candidates in the race for a council seat, Lewis MacKay and Douglas Cox, received 250 and 243 votes respectively.

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