A sign directs voters to their polling station during the 2019 territorial election. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Longtime Yellowknifer and mechanical engineer Jon Howe is running to be the next MLA for Yellowknife North.
Howe said he decided to enter the race as, in the days leading up to the finalization of the candidate list, only one person was running in Yellowknife North. He said he wants to engage people in the 2023 territorial election and encourage them to vote.
Howe said he has lived in Yellowknife since 1995 and has long worked as a mechanical engineer. He chose not to provide a photo of himself for this article and, at the time of writing, had no campaign website or Facebook page.
Rylund Johnson leaves the Yellowknife North seat open as he is not running for re-election.
This interview was recorded on October 24, 2023. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Emily Blake: To start off with, if elected, what would be your priorities or the things that you’d like to focus on over the next four years?
Jon Howe: Oh, geez. I wasn’t even thinking that far ahead.
Can you tell me a little bit about your campaign platform?
I ran because when I actually started gathering up the names and my forms, Shauna Morgan was unopposed. So I just didn’t want to see my MLA get acclaimed. That’s my main reason for running.
Can you tell me a bit more about yourself?
I’ve lived in Yellowknife since 1995. Work: mechanical engineer. And I was a longtime employee of Thorn Engineering. And actually, my boss just recently died and I’m in the process of taking over the assets of the company right now. It’s just about there. But I guess to say, technically, I’m an employee of Thorn Engineering still isn’t quite correct. But I’m working under the company name Thorn Engineering, mechanical engineer.
What do you see as the biggest issues facing the Yellowknife North district?
There’s not a lot of real issues for us. And well, I mean, just the usual issues for everybody, like we’re all flat broke after we spent all our money on an evacuation. And you know, long-term like, what are we going to do up here?
What are you hoping to bring to the role of MLA?
I’m just trying to get some people interested in what’s happening with the legislature and in particular this election. And beyond that? I’m not gonna save the world, let’s put it that way.
What do you think makes you stand out among other candidates in this district?
At the end of the day, we’re probably all saying the same things. But I don’t really see myself as a nail that’s sticking out of the tree or anything. I just hope to see people a little more engaged, and a little more interested in, and a little bit more aware of what’s happening, just at least enough to bother to go out and vote.
What’s your interest in politics?
Well, that was just about it. Just to get people interested in voting. I’ve never actually run for anything before. I figure this, for me, this is probably going to be a one-and-done thing.
I mean, realistically, I guess there’s three of us now. So the purpose was kind-of shot out of the water when Bruce dropped his name. But that’s fine. You know, I’m just in the race to make it a race. And that’s probably as far as my ambitions go. This horse is going to the glue factory after this campaign, I figure, but that’s fine.
Why do you think it’s important that districts do have competition, that it’s not just someone being acclaimed?
Isn’t that the whole point? It’s like, if you’re going to have an election, at the very least people should have the opportunity to vote for or against a candidate.
A single candidate running, that’s almost a tragedy. I mean, nobody worked for it, you got everything, you heard nothing. Fundamentally, I think there’s something wrong with that. So I mean, if just one person steps forward, really what’s the point of voting at all?
What are you hoping to see from the next government?
Hopefully it’ll be different from the government that we recently had. So I don’t think that’s a very low bar to set I realize. You know, more responsive to what’s happening. I mean, we’ve got issues here, both economic and legislative and regulatory.
So, you know, I’m not blaming that necessarily on the people involved or the no-party system or anything like that. I just think that we’ve been kind-of stagnating, and not just economically but politically. Things are kind-of stalling and I just hope they actually can just get ahead and get working.
Are you prepared if you do get elected for Yellowknife North?
I really haven’t thought that far. It’s not much of a campaign, to be quite honest. And I mean, I guess anything’s possible. But if they elected me, I’d be the most surprised person in the world.
Are you planning on participating in any of the candidate forums or debates that have been organized?
Yeah, I’ll try and make as many as I can. So that’s looking fairly good. I haven’t actually formally responded to anybody about that. But that’s basically going to be the extent of my campaign, hopefully showing up to some of these debates. Try and make myself sort-of useful.
Why do you think it’s important that people pay attention to this election and vote?
If the vote isn’t important to you, I mean, I can’t explain it to be quite honest.
It’s something I’ve done all my life, my adult life at least, is vote whenever the opportunity arose. And I think, what do we typically run at – 30, 40 percent for a voter turnout? Like, wow. I realize that maybe people get tuned out by the same rhetoric or maybe the same results. But it is important, I think.
If there’s one number that really matters the most, it’s the number of voters that actually show up. So I’m hoping to work on that.
Is there anything else you’d want to say to potential constituents?
Election day is November 14. And I wish I could speak to exactly what else you could do, but I believe that there’s other ways of voting. I think there’s an advanced poll. There might even be online voting this year.
I guess the broad message is: it’s not that tough to vote. It’s a pretty low-effort bar to achieve for something that I think we should all understand is fairly important. So yeah, just mark a ballot, however it’s done.
Asked to declare any outstanding lawsuits, debts or other issues that might form a conflict if elected, the candidate said there were none.