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Dead heat in 2013 election
Voter desire for devoted MLA hot topic in tied Rankin South

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013

With a judicial recount having confirmed a tie this week, the two Rankin Inlet South candidates are using the time until a byelection is called to take stock and reflect on their situations.

Incumbent Lorne Kusugak and relative political newcomer Alexander Sammurtok ended in a dead heat, with 172 votes each, when the final ballot was counted on Oct. 28.

The result was disappointing to Kusugak and encouraging for Sammurtok.

Kusugak said the first thing he thought of when the final tally was announced was he could have lost.

He said this election showed how much every vote counts, and you never really know what voters are thinking.

"One thing that bothers me about this election is the perception out there that I wanted to be minister again if re-elected," said Kusugak.

"It was never about that for me, and I never once said I was running for a ministerial position again.

"I'm running to be the MLA for Rankin South, not for a ministerial or leadership portfolio."

Kusugak said he was disappointed in media reporting on him wanting to be a minister again, or even premier.

He said that hindered more than helped his bid for re-election.

"My family and I still have to eat, pay bills and continue to live.

"So, I have to put that hat on and start weighing where we go from here."

Kusugak said his supporters know he's always worked hard for Rankin.

But, he said others may feel a regular MLA can do more for a constituency than a minister.

"My supporters are behind me whether I'm running for a cabinet position or not.

"But the people who leaned away from me appear to have wanted a regular MLA, and assumed I wasn't seeking just a MLA position."

Kusugak said whatever their reasons, the voters speak.

He said he's not sure, one way or the other, if Sammurtok outworked him during the campaign.

"I'm not sure it would have mattered if I'd knocked on doors three more times or went on local radio 10 more times.

"A number of incumbents were defeated this time out, but it will take more time to properly analyze why.

"Right now, I'm weighing my options, and that includes, should a byelection happen, if I even want to go down that path and carry on working as public servant."

Sammurtok has decided to remain active in politics whether he gains the Rankin Inlet South seat or not.

He said he was "bone tired" at the end of the race, and attributes part of his strong showing to hard work.

"I was quite pleased with the result and now we'll see what happens after the recount," said Sammurtok.

"I campaigned very hard, going from door to door and speaking on local radio.

"People seemed to support the topics I campaigned on, mainly 24-hour home care, and looking at why we have so many high school and Nunavut Arctic College graduates with diplomas, but no jobs.

"My aim is to have far more on-the-job training."

Sammurtok said during his campaign he wants to represent the people of Rankin Inlet as a regular MLA.

He said he has no interest in running for any ministerial positions at all, should he eventually take the Rankin South riding.

"That was a hot topic this election.

"People wanted to know their elected MLA was going to put the interests of the community first and be totally focused on their constituency.

"However this turns out, I'm going to stick with politics for awhile because I truly believe in the two major platforms I campaigned on."

In addition to his platform, Sammurtok said some of the issues he heard from people were the shortage of housing in Rankin and other health-service concerns, such as people having to travel for surgery without an escort.

"There was also a lot of concern raised to me about the condition of our dump in Rankin, and the bad problem we have with very dusty roads.

"Really, these are health concerns, too, and the Government of Nunavut has to work with the hamlet to make significant improvements."

Election results

Listed below are the final 2013 Nunavut general election results for each Kivalliq constituency.

Arviat North-Whale Cove:

  • George Pugutaq Kuksuk 160 (elected)
  • Elizabeth Copland 146
  • David Kritterdlik 71
  • Amauyak Netser 66
  • Joseph Ivitaaruk Kaviok 19

Arviat South:

  • Joe Savikataaq 181 (elected)
  • Airo Pameolik 147
  • Peter Alareak 125

Baker Lake:

  • Simeon Mikkungwak 392 (elected)
  • Karen Yip 269

Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet:

  • Tom Sammurtok 212 (elected)
  • Donna Adams 94
  • Qilak Kusugak 89
  • Harry Niakrok 68

Rankin Inlet South: Candidates tied pending judicial recount:

  • Lorne Kusugak 172
  • Alexander Sammurtok 172

Aivilik (Repulse Bay-Coral Harbour):

  • Steve Mapsalak 263 (elected)
  • Johnny Ningeongan 187

Source: Elections Nunavut

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