There can be no doubt who the Kivalliq’s elder statesman is, as far as municipal politics are concerned, following Bob Leonard’s fifth-consecutive election win for the mayor’s seat in Arviat on Oct. 28.
Leonard has been Arviat’s mayor for the past 11 years; serving one two-year term and three consecutive three-year terms.
Leonard said he had no doubts or reservations about seeking his fifth term as Arviat mayor.
He said there are still a number of projects in development in Arviat, and he wanted to see them through before entertaining any thoughts on stepping away from the political arena.
“I can’t talk on the specifics, as they haven’t been formerly brought to hamlet council yet, but I can say we’re looking at doing a multipurpose facility for the community,” said Leonard.
“And, of course, we also have a solar and wind power-generating project that’s coming along and, I believe, is now going to come about for sure.”
Leonard said the biggest change during his 11-year run as mayor is having the hamlet solve a lot of its own problems within the community – and expanding opportunities through local initiatives – rather than waiting for some other level of government to come along and do it for them.
He said the hamlet is also just finishing-up its first year of looking after bingo games in the community, which he said has gone very well.
“In my opinion, the hamlet looking after the bingo games has been a complete success here in Arviat.
“To be honest, we’ve had fewer problems with it than we originally thought we would, and revenue is up, which we suspected would happen.
“As a result of that, there’s a lot more money going out to community groups now than there ever was before.”
Another item on Leonard’s to-do list as mayor of Arviat is to get a heavy-equipment school up and running in the community.
Leonard said Arviat has been operating heavy-equipment courses for the past couple of years.
In fact, he said, Arviat ran four such courses during the past calendar year.
“We’d like to expand that and start bringing people from across the region down here and spread the training out more,” said Leonard.
“It’s been all local people who took the training here to date.”
Leonard is a highly visible mayor in his community, which he views as an important role for any mayor.
He said people should feel that their mayor cares about them and what they’re doing in the community.
“To me, it’s a way of showing respect for the people who are participating in whatever event happens to be going on at the time,” said Leonard.
“And, through making that effort to get out see whatever people are doing – a hockey tournament or a stage play, whatever – you show them that you really do care about whatever is happening in their lives.
“Every time you go through an election, it’s both exhilarating and humbling that so many people support you. So, it’s really important to me that I make sure I give that support back to them.”