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The race is on for Yellowknife mayor
Heyck preparing to campaign after chartered accountant prevents acclamation

Evan Kiyoshi French
Northern News Services
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mayor Mark Heyck said he was pleasantly surprised when he learned he'll be challenged for his job in the fall election.

Three days before nominations closed, John Himmelman - a chartered accountant who writes tax columns for News/North but is on a hiatus because of the election - became Heyck's only competition for the mayor's seat. Heyck said he was busy late last week, so he wasn't sitting in his office, staring at the city's list of candidates and hitting the refresh button.

"I was rather busy travelling last week so I didn't have a chance," he said. "But I did notice on Friday afternoon that I do have some opposition. I welcome the competition. I think it's good for democracy and it's good to present voters with a choice. It's good to have the opportunity over the course of an election campaign to get feedback from voters on your performance so far. I look forward to that discussion."

He said he expects he and Himmelman will lock horns over the matter of downtown revitalization and tackling homelessness and mental-health issues in the downtown core.

"That's going to be a critical part of the conversation and I have some ideas about that that I'll release in the days to come," he said.

He said maintaining infrastructure - fixing roads and sidewalks - will also be on the menu.

"I think that'll come up quite a bit," said Heyck. "There's concern the local economy isn't doing as well as it should. And I do think this council has been proactive in determining the types of things we can do in the years ahead to strengthen the local economy."

Heyck said those 'types of things' could include taking better advantage of the mining industry and the resource sector or looking at developing further business incubation formulas to help small businesses get off the ground.

Himmelman was quoted on a local website decrying Heyck's decision-making regarding the 50/50 lot. He said the mayor's vote sealed the decision to purchase the controversial property, and didn't take into account the concerns of councillors who were against it.

He also told the website the city's lawsuit against the territorial government for equal representation in the legislative assembly is "racist" because a win would mean money would be taken away from the communities.

Heyck said he'll let voters decide whether his time in office was well spent.

"We'll leave it to the people of Yellowknife to decide on my performance," he said.

With the race for mayor officially interesting, Heyck said he's got signs and he's ready to use them.

"Signs will be going out shortly so people definitely will start to see those later this week," he said. "I've been through numerous campaigns now, four combined between council and mayor. I have a lot of experience in that, in what we have to do leading up to election day. We'll be rolling those things out over the next few days."

Himmelman did not return requests for comment before press time.

Yellowknife will select a new mayor or the current one on Oct. 19.

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