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How a former councillor's election campaign inspired Rebecca Alty to enter politics

Yellowknife’s new mayor, Rebecca Alty, officially takes office on Nov. 5. As she prepares for the work ahead, she reflects on how an opportunity to run someone else’s election campaign sparked her career in city politics.

Yellowknife mayor-elect Rebecca Alty takes office on Nov. 5

Rebecca Alty was elected to be Yellowknife's next mayor on Monday. She steps into the new role on Nov. 5. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Back in 2012, before Yellowknife mayor-elect Rebecca Alty was sitting on city council, former councillor Linda Bussey approached Alty to run her campaign for an upcoming municipal election.

Alty had never run a campaign before, so she decided to attend a campaign school for women. As the participants went around the room, introducing themselves, many of the women explained that they were there "to help," Alty said.

"[Bussey] just asked: 'But who's running? Where are the women?'" Alty said. "She's like: 'You're never not going to be busy. You're always going to find something. So you know, if you want to take this opportunity, go for it.'"

That's how Alty's political career began.

Women in politics

Now, after serving two terms as a city councillor since 2012, Alty is the second woman to be elected mayor in Yellowknife's history. Pat McMahon was the first, serving from 1988 to 1994. Every other woman who ran for mayor in N.W.T. municipal elections on Monday night also won.

"I think it's incredible," Alty said of the results, adding she's heard from parents with young girls who are excited to have a role model as mayor.

"For the past 18 years we haven't had a female present for mayor. And so, you know, the fact that young girls can say, 'Oh … of course women put their name in,' I think is an opportunity."

While she has a bit of time to rest up before officially taking the reins next month, Alty already has a number of tasks she wants to tackle once she starts her new job as mayor.

Setting out priorities

"For me, the top three things [are] getting council orientation going, we've got our budget 2019, and then getting council's strategic plan started … so that we can kick off this term and really know where we're going and start showing people our vision," she said.

Alty said she's also looking forward to working with administration on the new council's vision. The incoming council is made up of a mix of new and returning councillors.

As for the time she spent on council with former councillor Adrian Bell, who came second in the mayoral race, Alty is thankful.

"He's been a hardworking councillor," she said. "I knew it was going to be a tough fight."

Alty officially takes office on Nov. 5.

With files from Loren McGinnis

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