Four fresh faces vie for Range Lake seat

Yellowknife's Range Lake riding has been without an MLA since Health Minister Sandy Lee resigned in March, and none of the four candidates has ever held political office.
Four candidates are vying for the Range Lake seat in the territorial election, including Daryl Dolynny, Beaton MacKenzie and Norman Smith. (Jennifer Geens/CBC)

Residents in Yellowknife's Range Lake riding are showing signs of election fatigue after four weeks of four candidates canvassing their neighbourhood.

"We've realized at the door they are tired," said candidate Daryl Dolynny. "The residents are tired of opening up doors. Some of them are receptive, but for the most part you've got to read that."

Dolynny's team will be switching to a telephone campaign for the final weekend before Monday's territorial election.

The Range Lake seat has been vacant since former Health Minister Sandy Lee resigned in March to run in the federal election and none of the four candidates for the job - Dolynny, Beaton MacKenzie, Norman Smith and David Wasylciw - has ever held political office.

Dolynny, a pharmacist and owner of Yellowknife's Shoppers Drug Mart franchise, said he has previously worked behind the scenes for candidates in territorial and federal elections.

"All these years being behind the scenes and part of of the community, it's a training for when you become a candidate."

"My health background is obviously something that's propelled me to be an advocate for health for many many years. However being also in business has given me the opportunity to bring those boardroom skills to a lot of the NGO work that I've done for the community. Those are two areas that I will be bringing to the leg. if elected."

Youngest candidate in the territory

Improving health care is also a priority for 28-year-old David Wasylciw - the youngest candidate in the territory - but government accountability is his biggest objective.

"I think we have to be more open with government decisions and the decision making process has to be out in the open in the house where people can actually see it, not just in closed room committees and in behind closed doors. Also we have to be more open with expenses."

"In the last assembly it seemed that nobody was working together and nobody actually wanted to get anything accomplished and they spent all their time yelling and arguing without any solutions coming out of it. So I think that has to change right off the bat."

Norman Smith would like to use his experience with the Union of Northern Workers to help bring the 17th assembly together on important issues like devolution.

"I think this time we need to bring all the partners in and have some meaningful consultation and get it done because we are losing out," he said. "All the other territories are moving forward with development and we are lagging behind."

Experienced as a candidate

Beaton MacKenzie, a teacher at Sir John Franklin High School for more than 30 years, is the only experienced candidate running in Range Lake. He has run unsuccessfully in both Kam Lake and Great Slave districts.

"It could be an advantage because people from the other areas know that I am a long-time Yellowknifer," he said. "I still am a person who is for the people."

Only 52 per cent of voters in Range Lake turned out in the last territorial election, and the candidates hope a fresh new roster of faces will inspire more people to vote.

"Everyone can have a say in what happens in the legislative assembly, but you have to get out and vote," said Wasylciw.