Rankin Inlet mayor defeats cabinet minister Brown

Rankin Inlet Mayor Lorne Kusugak defeated incumbent Levenia Brown in the Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove race on Monday.

Rankin Inlet Mayor Lorne Kusugak defeated incumbent Levinia Brown by a healthy margin in the Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove race on Monday.

With all five polls reporting in Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, Kusugak had 329 votes over Brown's 203, earning 62 per cent of the vote over Brown's 38 per cent, according to unofficial results from Elections Nunavut.

Rankin Inlet, population 2,358, is Nunavut's second-largest community and the centre of the Kivalliq region.

Tagak Curley, a veteran Inuit politician, was acclaimed to a second term as MLA in Rankin Inlet North, one of the community's two constituencies.

Curley was also acclaimed in the 2004 election, when he succeeded outgoing MLA Jack Anawak. Shortly after being elected, Curley made an unsuccessful run for premier, losing to Okalik.

When asked by CBC News Monday if he will seek the top job this time around, Curley simply replied, "I'll just say I might, for now."

Brown, who was health minister and community and government services minister in the last legislative assembly, won by only 33 votes in the 2004 election.

Kusugak is well-known in the hamlet, but is not without some controversy: in September, he was charged with sexual assault and choking in relation to an incident from 2001.

He pleaded not guilty, claiming the charges were political in nature. A preliminary inquiry in the matter is scheduled for Dec. 1.

But Kusugak said the outstanding court matter didn't affect voters.

"It didn't cross my mind, and it didn't the cross the minds of the electorate," Kusugak said.

"They know the work I can do. They believe in me, I believe in myself, and that didn't even come to my mind."