As MLA-hopefuls trek around Saskatchewan in a bid for voters’ support, several Moose Javians will be doing likewise in their city after nominations for mayor and council closed this week, starting the municipal election campaign there.
Incumbent Fraser Tolmie will face two challengers for the mayor’s office, John Kot and Nancy Nash, while 15 candidates will vie for one of six city council seats. Three council candidates are running as incumbents — Heather Eby, Crystal Froese and Dawn Luhning. Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Chris Warren aren’t seeking re-election.
Election day is Nov. 9, but voters can cast their ballots other ways prior to then: Mail-in ballots, mobile poll voting for mobility-impaired people and their caregivers and advance polls.
Tolmie is running for his second term as mayor, after beating incumbent mayor and former NDP MLA Deb Higgins for the city’s top office in 2016; prior to that he served one term as a city councillor.
His online candidate profile says he wants to add to his “reputation for consensus building and problem solving,” hoping to make the city safe and prosperous.
Tolmie will also likely use recent international marketing and rebranding campaigns to tout his record of building civic pride: A playful international battle with the Norwegian town Stor-Elvdal over which municipality has the world’s tallest moose statue; and a city-wide rebranding effort to dub Moose Jaw the country’s most notorious city, complete with a new logo.
Kot, a lifetime Moose Javian and tree business owner, is pitching voters on paved park pathways, an expanded dog park, a tar and seal program for the city’s roads and increased tourism efforts.
Nash is a blues and pop music-recording artist, who has lived in Moose Jaw for the past four years. She was born in North Battleford and describes herself as “intelligent, witty, kind, honest, hard-working.”
Niether Kot nor Nash ran for the mayor’s seat in 2016.
Non-incumbent candidates running for a council seat include: Doug Blanc, Joni Brisbin, Jody Chell, Jamaal James, Jamey Logan, Trevor McPherson, Kim R. Robinson, Doug Schick, Dwayne St. Dennis, Nicholas Styck, Earl Swalm and Steven J. White.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its so-far steady presence in Saskatchewan while rapidly flaring up elsewhere in Canada, watch for candidates to focus on the city’s economy in pitching ideas for keeping it stable, particularly around its mill rate.
In early May, councillors and the mayor voted to cut the mill rate increase on property taxes to zero, the first time they made the move in more than two decades. They cut it after an economic slowdown forced by the pandemic.
Though now resolved by referendum in the 2016 election, the city’s ongoing water main replacement program may also prove a discussion-starter in the campaign, especially as it relates to the budget.
For those voters intending to vote at polls on Nov. 9 or in advance polls, they should expect mandatory physical distancing (two metres apart), strong recommendations to wear a mask, available hand sanitizer and frequent cleaning.
Advance polls are from Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. to Nov. 5 at 4 p.m.
Applications for mail-in voting can be done by mail, online (deadline Oct. 16 at 5 p.m.) or in person (deadline Nov. 6 at 4:45 p.m.).
Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post