Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu a riding to watch in Nunavut election

The race in Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu between an incumbent, a repeat challenger and a strong political newcomer is shaping up to be one to watch in Nunavut’s Oct. 30 election.

In 2013, only 20 votes separated Pat Angnakak and Anne Crawford. Now, they are facing off again

Anne Crawford, Pat Angnakak and Franco Buscemi are the three candidates running in the Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu for the October 30 election. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

The race in Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu between an incumbent, a repeat challenger and a strong political newcomer is shaping up to be one to watch in Nunavut's Oct. 30 election.

In 2013, only 20 votes separated Pat Angnakak and Anne Crawford. Now, they are facing off again, but time they are joined by Franco Buscemi — a first-time candidate with an extensive volunteer history.

Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu was a new riding in 2013. It encompasses the neighbourhood of Tundra Valley and Apex, a satellite community. The riding is home to three schools and the Arctic Winter Games Arena, as well as a mix of housing that includes numerous homeowners, apartments for government employees, and some public housing.

Newcomer focuses on child care, education, housing

"Every riding in Iqaluit has an incumbent. My motivation had nothing to do with who's running and who's the incumbent," said Buscemi, who was born and raised in Iqaluit and attended high school in Ottawa.

The 36-year-old is the general manager of Uqsuq Corporation and has served on boards for the Food First Foundation, the Alianait Arts Festival, Iqaluit Housing Authority, and Qanak Collective.

According to Buscemi, child care, education and housing are the most important issues in Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu,

"Right now in Iqaluit we have a large network of unlicensed daycares operated from homes. I'd like to work with those providers, get them licensed, and get them eligible for resources, so that our children are better protected, as well as the home care providers," he said.

Buscemi would also like to see a universal breakfast program and full-day junior kindergarten and kindergarten to improve literacy rates and cut down on child care needs.

Although Buscemi is taking his first steps in the political arena, he says if elected, he would try for a cabinet position.

Incumbent says she's made progress

First-time incumbent Pat Angnakak says she's prepared to work hard for her votes.

Angnakak ran in 2013 after serving as the executive assistant to Peter Taptuna, who was Minister of Economic Development and Transportation at the time.

She says she is looking for a second term because she has been an advocate for elders and youth and has made progress on issues like workplace bullying.

"The government now issues these workshops on workplace bullying that they never did before," said Angnakak.

Angnakak says she's focused on getting re-elected and is unsure if she would pursue a cabinet position.

The 54-year-old says she sees the value in being a voice on a broad range of issues. She said that she'd like to put a stop to sending elders and children in care south to be cared for.

"This seems to be a trend now for our government and I don't think that's the direction we need to keep going," she said.

"We need to stop that and we need to put money into those services so we don't have to do that. When if we say it's a priority then we're going to put the money to it and then we'll stop doing that."

Angnakak was born in Cape Dorset and raised in Pangnirtung. She's lived in Iqaluit since 1980.

Repeat challenger looks to take next step

Anne Crawford is running again to bring forward her ideas and to prove running in 2013 wasn't a "one off idea."

The Iqaluit lawyer has held a number of senior government positions in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut governments, including Conflict of Interest Commissioner and the head of the Qulliq Energy Corporation.

Crawford was also the secretary to cabinet in Nunavut's first legislative assembly.

The 58-year-old sees increasing homeownership, improving basic municipal services, education and health as the most pressing issues in the riding.

"We have to focus on what Nunavummiut need and not on greater issues around being a government in the Canadian constitution," said Crawford.

She points to roads, water delivery, sewage and garbage as examples of basic services that need to improve in all communities.

"As a legislative assembly, we have to be attentive to our communities and we have to be committed to the people," she said.

Crawford was born in Edmonton and has lived in Iqaluit since 1985.