Incumbent mayor in Tuktoyaktuk doesn't want any votes on election day

When Tuktoyaktuk residents vote for mayor on Monday, they will have the option to vote for four candidates, but one of those listed, incumbent Darrel Nasogaluak, says he doesn’t want anyone to vote for him.

Mayor Darrel Nasogaluak wanted to withdraw, but missed the deadline to do so

Calvin Pokiak (left), John Steen Jr. (center), and Mervin Gruben are the three mayoral candidates in Tuktoyaktuk still campaigning for the job. (CBC)

There are community elections taking place across the Northwest Territories, but in Tuktoyaktuk the mayor doesn't want any votes.

When Tuktoyaktuk residents vote for mayor on Monday, they will have the option to vote for four candidates who've each had years of political experience.

But one of those listed, incumbent Darrel Nasogaluak, says he doesn't want anyone to vote for him.

Darrel Nasogaluak, mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, has his name on the mayoral candidate list, but doesn't want any votes. (David Thurton/CBC)

"I missed the withdrawal date but I've let the community know that I've withdrawn," Nasogaluak said.

The other candidates are John Steen Jr., who has previous experience on council, and former mayors Calvin Pokiak and Merven Gruben.

Nasogaluak says he has confidence in all three of them, and that they are all capable of the job.

The other reason he's taking his name out of contention is that he's running for a position at the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation, and wants to focus on one organization at a time.

Three still want Tuktoyaktuk votes

Steen has about five years of experience on council, including a stint as deputy mayor.

He says it's important that the federal government become aware of how severe the issue of shoreline erosion is, and that a plan to protect the community needs to be a priority.

"I don't understand why they would build a road all the way to our community and not protect the community," said Steen.

Gruben says it's great to see how competitive the race is this year.

"It's really exciting times for our community as everybody knows the road is officially opened to Tuk and there is some exciting times and opportunity, but nobody is really doing anything about it," he said.

The new 137 kilometre all-weather gravel road connecting Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik is on candidate's minds as they go into Monday's mayoral election. (James MacKenzie/GNWT/Canadian Press)

Gruben served six years as mayor of Tuktoyaktuk before Nasogaluak, and spent the last four years focusing on the completion of the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway.

"My biggest vision now is of course shoreline erosion, getting our natural gas locations for Tuk and our deep sea port," he said.

"These are very doable projects that could happen really quick."

Pokiak last served as mayor nearly 30 years ago and later served as MLA for the region from 2003 to 2007.

He says he wants to see the hamlet become more proactive with the territorial government.

"Under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, it's imminent now that we are going to go into self-government," he said.

"So we need to start dealing both locally and territorially with the IRC [Inuvialuit Regional Corporation] to see how self-government is going to work out."

He also wants to work with the territorial government in preparation of offshore drilling for when the moratorium ends, and work with oil companies interested in the gas fields near the community.

"The economy right now is bad, people really need to work, to find ways for employment," Pokiak said.

All of the candidates agree that with the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk highway completed, they want to see the hamlet build on that momentum.

There are also eight candidates running for four council positions.

Nine other N.W.T. hamlets are holding elections on Dec. 11, including Aklavik, Enterprise, Fort Liard, Fort McPherson, Fort Resolution, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tulita and Ulukhaktok.