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Kenny Bell is Iqaluit's new mayor as municipal elections held across Nunavut

As ballots were counted late Monday in municipal elections across Nunavut, the city of Iqaluit announced that Kenny Bell has been elected mayor of the territorial capital.

Results will come in Tuesday night from Rankin Inlet, Chesterfield Inlet, Whale Cove and Baker Lake

Kenny Bell will be mayor of Iqaluit for the next four years after being elected in the capital's municipal election Monday. (David Gunn/CBC)

Mayors and councillors were elected across Nunavut on the same day for the first time on Monday, as communities went to the polls to select their leadership.

In Iqaluit, former councillor Kenny Bell is the capital's new mayor. Bell was elected to a four-year term with 1,049 ballots, while rival candidate Noah Papatsie had 688 votes. Voter turnout was 46.42 per cent.

Bell sat on council between 2012 and 2015 but resigned, citing frustration with the way the city was being managed. In his platform, he cited managing the city's water shortage crisis as a top priority. 

Papatsie served as a councillor from 2013 to 2015 and was re-elected to the most recent council in 2017 through a byelection. He ran for mayor in 2015 but lost against Iqaluit's outgoing mayor, Madeleine Redfern.

Redfern, who chose not to run again this fall, said she accomplished what she set out to do in the term. This was to "stabilize the city" and bring about financial change, she said.

Bell is excited to work with the councillors elected. "We have a good council, there's a bunch of veterans and newcomers, but those newcomers have a lot of experience and a lot of different facets of life," he said.

Eight councillors were also elected for Iqaluit. They are Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster, Joanasie Akumalik, Solomon Awa, Romeyn Stevenson, Sheila Flaherty, Kyle Sheppard, Simon Nattaq, and Malaiya Lucassie.

Akumalik, Stevenson, Sheppard, and Nattaq are incumbents, while the other four councillors are newcomers.

Kenny Bell and Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster celebrating their victory Monday night. (Submitted by Kenny Bell)

At 955, Pitsiulaaq Brewster got the most votes. The head of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association had never run for politics before. 

"In all the years that I have volunteered here and sat on boards here, often I was the only Inuk," Pitsiulaaq Brewster said. "I am over the moon about the prospect of sitting with Inuit and making a difference in the way that we know how to communicate with each other, and that we're all committed to our community, as are the people who are non-Inuit on council."

Bell, Sheppard and Stevenson are non-Inuit members of council. 

Redfern was the only female representative on the previous council, and stressed the need for women on council before stepping down. Brewster, Flaherty, and Lucassie are the new female members of council. 

In total, 27 people sought seats on council.

The council will be sworn in on Nov. 5 at the Nunavut Court of Justice.

Elections postponed, suspended due to weather

Elections in Rankin Inlet and Chesterfield Inlet were postponed due to weather but will be held Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to Elections Nunavut. The results will be posted when the count is complete.

Elections in Whale Cove and Baker Lake were also suspended due to weather. In Baker Lake, polls will be open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., and in Whale Cove, from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Municipal elections used to be run through the Nunavut government's Community and Government Services Department.

Now, Elections Nunavut fills that role, after the Nunavut Elections Act was updated in 2017.

Ballots from the Baffin region started coming in after 8 p.m. ET Monday. (Nick Murray/CBC)

Mayors elected across territory

Elections were set to be held in every community in the territory on Monday. Mayors were acclaimed in Arctic Bay, Coral Harbour, Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay. Nobody ran for mayor in Cape Dorset.

Read below for a quick list of who was victorious in each community. Full results are available on Elections Nunavut's website

  • Arctic Bay: Moses Oyukuluk (acclaimed).
  • Arviat: Bob Leonard.
  • Cambridge Bay: Pamela Hakongak Gross.
  • Clyde River: Jerry Natanine.
  • Coral Harbour: Willie Nakoolak (acclaimed).
  • Gjoa Haven: Megan Porter.
  • Grise Fiord: Meeka Kiguktak (acclaimed).
  • Hall Beach: Jayko Simonie.
  • Igloolik: Merlyn Recinos.
  • Kimmirut: Maliktuk Lyta.
  • Kugaaruk: Teddy Apsaktaun.
  • Kugluktuk: David Audlatak Ningalok.
  • Naujaat: Alan Robinson.
  • Pangnirtung: Hezekiah Oshutapik.
  • Pond Inlet: Joshua Arreak.
  • Qikiqtarjuaq: Harry Alookie.
  • Resolute Bay: Mark Amarualik (acclaimed).
  • Sanikiluaq: Johnnie Cookie.
  • Taloyoak: Chuck Pizzo-Lyall.

In Clyde River, Natanine served as mayor while the community was at the forefront of a Supreme Court of Canada case about seismic testing in the area. This time, he says he wants to work with the Nangmautaq Hunters and Trappers Association to build up the community halibut and shrimp fishery.

"It feels really good and I'm really looking forward to it," Natanine said of the election win. "There's a lot to do."

Jerry Natanine is back as mayor of Clyde River. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

In communities where eight of fewer candidates ran for council, those councils were acclaimed. Those communities include: Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Coral Harbour, Gjoa Haven, Grise Fiord, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Kimmirut, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Resolute Bay, and Taloyoak.

With files from Jacqueline McKay

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