Whitehorse councillor Mellisa Murray set to run for mayor

Murray is the second sitting councillor to declare for this fall's mayoral election
Whitehorse Coun. Mellisa Murray has announced that she will seek election as the city's mayor this fall.

Whitehorse Coun. Mellisa Murray has announced she will be seeking the city’s top job in this fall’s election.

“Having called Whitehorse home all her life, Mellisa is deeply rooted in the community and understands its needs and aspirations. Acknowledging that she lives on the traditional territories of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and Kwanlin Dün First Nation, she aims to continue the City’s partnerships with the two First Nations,” Murray’s July 9 announcement of her candidacy reads.

“Her tenure as a City Councillor has been marked by her fearless approach to asking tough questions and her unwavering commitment to pushing for the community’s best interests. Her years on council has strengthened her understanding of municipal politics and governance, and will support her in her role as mayor to lead and collaborate with the next council.”

Murray won a council seat for the first time in the fall 2021 election, netting the most overall votes in the council race with 3,546 ballots marked with her name.

Priorities identified by Murray in the announcement are: The building of an “environmentally conscious community” with the objective of combatting climate change, fostering a focus on equity, diversity and inclusivity, supporting affordable housing and infrastructure development, building strong relationships with all levels of government and supporting the health and safety of all Whitehorse citizens.

With improving the housing situation in the city stated as a priority for Murray both in 2021 prior to her council term and going into this mayoral election, she cited accomplishments of the current council on this front: Safe at Home High Country Inn development helping facilitate development on Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council lots with zoning amendments and the approval of rental housing development incentives.

When Coun. Michelle Friesen proposed that the city write a letter to Canada’s prime minister and the Foreign Affairs minister calling for a ceasefire in the war in Gaza and solidarity with the Palestinian people earlier this year, Murray was the only councillor who voted with her appealing a point of order that struck the matter from the city’s agenda. Following public pressure in the form of packed delegate lists appearing before council in support, the city eventually penned a letter to Yukon MP Brendan Hanley calling for Canada to support a ceasefire.

“We ended up writing a letter after all that to MP Hanley, which to me, could have happened without the struggle that the councillors and some of the community members had to go through to get to that point. To get to the point of like, being heard,” Murray said.

“And so, for me, I would want to lead that in a way where councillors are heard and our community is heard so we can move forward in a good way.”

Murray’s candidacy notice also speaks to the importance of representation.

“Representation matters, and as a young female leader, second-generation Chinese Canadian, and mother of two biracial children, Mellisa is determined to inspire underrepresented community members and show that their voices can make a difference.”

Murray called for more inclusion of youth, elder and senior voices in city discussions and said it is a priority for her to build this in through city policies, bylaws and procedures.

“As a lifelong resident of Whitehorse, I am passionate about our city and its future,” Murray said

“I believe in the power of community and collaboration. Together, we can build a thriving, inclusive, and sustainable community.”

-With files from Stephanie Waddell and John Tonin
Contact Jim Elliot at [email protected]

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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