Meet the candidates running for mayor of Dawson City

·6 min read
The four candidates running for mayor of Dawson City at a municipal election forum. They are, from left to right, Stephen Johnson, Kevin Mendelsohn, Bill Kendrick and Xen Van Nostrand. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)
The four candidates running for mayor of Dawson City at a municipal election forum. They are, from left to right, Stephen Johnson, Kevin Mendelsohn, Bill Kendrick and Xen Van Nostrand. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)

Four Dawsonites are running in the race to become the new mayor of Dawson City.

Two incumbent town councillors and two newcomers to municipal politics are vying for the position.

Each of the candidates introduced themselves to CBC News and shared why they're running for the job.

Kevin Mendelsohn

Kevin Mendelsohn was born and raised in Dawson City. At 33 years old, he currently works as an electrical contractor in town.

Mendelsohn said he wanted to put his name forward to become mayor because he knows first hand the needs of his community.

"I've always felt that Dawson needed changes," Mendelsohn told CBC News.

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

"Watching [the town] grow, I've watched the struggles that come with that growth. There isn't very many strategic plans for the 'right now.' I think that with my views, I can contribute to that growth and expansion to make sure that Dawson has the sufficient facilities and housing requirements that are needed."

Safe and reliable housing, a year-round recreational facility, and waste management are among Mendelsohn's key priorities.

As a member of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, he said it's equally important for council to work in collaboration with the First Nation on these projects and the town's development.

"I'm very proud to be a Tr'ondëk citizen," he shared.

"I have very strong ties with the Tr'ondëk government. What that establishes is a good communication that's already there. I want to work closely with them because they are a large government that also has the same issues as the city because we're all in the same place."

This is the first time Mendelsohn has put his name forward to run for politics.

He says what he lacks for in experience, he makes up for with a lifetime of living in Dawson City.

"I think I would be optimal for this position because I do have a whole life of experience in Dawson and I know the other side as a citizen growing up here. As a youth growing up here, I know what I needed then and I really want to fight for that now for the youth and elders today."

Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson is no stranger to municipal politics in Dawson City. He sat on council for 12 years.

Johnson said he's running for mayor because there are things he would like to see completed for the town of Dawson City.

"Number one is the creation of lots," Johnson said.

"I want to have lots of different sizes. Lots of lots so that can bring the cost of sewer and water to those lots to a reasonable and affordable amount."

Johnson said he wants to make living in Dawson City more affordable for young people and people in the service industry.

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

Like Mendelsohn, Johnson mentioned that he'd like to see a new recreation centre for the community.

"Getting a recreation complex designed, and not only that, but designed by the community as a whole," he said.

"That's really important to me that we get all of these ideas into this design and it's built in such a way that if we can't build the whole nine yards to begin with, that we get the basics and can build on that. This is something we really need to do a good job on."

Xen Van Nostrand

Xen Van Nostrand is another newcomer to politics. At just 18 years old, he is the youngest candidate in the municipal election.

Van Nostrand said he decided to run because he loves his community and wants to make a difference.

"I've seen many areas in which Dawson City can improve," he told CBC News.

"The past leadership has been great because Dawson City has been a great place to grow up in but things such as having a better recreation centre or better programming and equipment, I feel like I have seen things that I can personally do to help benefit Dawson."

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

Van Nostrand said if elected he would like to address the community's concerns around child care.

"There's not enough room right now for all of the kids to be in daycare," he explained.

"It's causing us to have less workers in the field. During COVID[-19], there was a natural shortage of workers but having people who are at home taking care of their kids who want to be out working but can't, is impacting the community."

Van Nostrand said he would consult the community to discuss possible options whether it would building a new daycare facility or looking into in home day care services.

Prior to running for mayor, Van Nostrand said he didn't realize the amount of research and time that goes into politics.

He said regardless of the outcome, he has really enjoyed the process and has learned a lot about his community.

"I feel that more people should be involved in municipal politics. A lot of people said they wanted to be mayor but it wasn't their place. I think that it's everybody's place, if they are a part of the community, to be involved with improving it instead of just asking for the changes to happen," he said.

Bill Kendrick

Bill Kendrick is an incumbent councillor who, like Johnson, has sat on city council for almost 12 years.

He said serving on council under two different mayors has given him the experience to get things done.

"As a councillor, people saw me as someone who asked tough questions or challenged the status quo when needed." Kendrick said.

"The mayor's role is different. We need to get stuff done."

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

Like the other three candidates, opening more residential lots in the Dawson area, and building the town's new recreation centre are on his list of things to do.

During a call with CBC News, Kendrick congratulated the four new acclaimed city councillors he would be working with if elected mayor.

All of them are new to city council.

He said having a mayor at the helm who knows the processes and procedures will be essential to moving Dawson in the right direction.

"There is a lot of learning to do." he explained. "You can have all of the best ideas in the world but unless you know how to form them into resolutions, write bylaws, write policies and the steps that are needed to change the official community plan, it's going to take a long time."

Kendrick said Dawson City is a unique place with lots of potential.

He said that he would be right fit for the position.

"I have a good mix of knowledge, experience and initiative, as well as youthful enthusiasm," he said.

"I mean you don't have to be young to have fresh ideas and you don't have to be older to have experience and wisdom. I truly feel that I am the best candidate for mayor in Dawson City for 2021."

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