Morinville residents will have to wait until Wednesday to know for sure, but it looks like Lisa Holmes is the town’s new mayor.
Holmes was declared the unofficial winner of the 2013 Morinville mayoral election Monday night, beating candidates Sheldon Fingler, Carrie Foss and Christa Naughton.
With 10 out of 10 polls reporting at 10:30 p.m., Holmes had 1,034 votes to Fingler’s 1,016 – a hair-splitting difference of just 18 votes.
It was so close that Paula Hittinger, Fingler’s agent, asked for an official recount. “I’ve requested the recount due to the fact that there was an 18-vote gap,” she said.
The recount means that residents won’t know until at least Wednesday who won the mayoral race – Holmes or Fingler.
Holmes was nonetheless jubilant and “over the moon” when reached at the Higher Grounds coffee shop shortly after the results were published. “This is something I’ve waited for a long time for.”
The close vote shows that there were a lot of great candidates and ideas in this race, Holmes said. “I really hope we can now move forward into a council of teamwork and collaboration.”
But with four rookie councillors and just three years of experience herself, Holmes said council faces a big learning curve this fall – so big that it would likely pass an interim budget this November, with a full one not happening until February.
Holmes thanked town residents for giving her the chance to serve, and vowed to govern in an open, honest and accessible manner. “I’m looking forward to the next four years and what we can do to make Morinville stronger.”
Fingler, reached at the Tiny Tot Café, said he felt “absolutely fantastic” despite Monday’s results. “With such a small margin separating everything, it’s still a very positive race for me,” he said.
“I’m greatly appreciative of the 1,016 people that supported me,” he continued. “I certainly hope everything we brought forward as issues gets carried forward.”
Fingler ruled out working with Holmes this term, even in an unofficial capacity. “I don’t want to take away anybody’s thunder,” he said.
He was also uncertain if he would run again. “We’ve got four years to check performance and make sure people are accountable,” he said, and he would wait and see if he had to return to politics.
In the meantime, he said he would go back to his day-job at Infinite Event Services. “I’ve got a great wife, great kids, great friends and am part of a great community,” he said. “For me, I get to go back to enjoying the rest of life.”
Foss, who earned 294 votes, said she was shocked by these results. “I thought that the people of Morinville had expressed their desire for change, but the results didn’t show that.”
Criticizing Holmes as “not pro-business” and noting that she had attended a recent March Against Monsanto in Morinville (a rally held this month protesting genetically modified foods), she said Holmes would bring roundabouts to the town’s main street and higher taxes through the Coeur de Morinville plan.
“I’m worried for where we are going,” she said.
Naughton, who unofficially dropped out of the race earlier this month, got 12 votes.
Five confirmed, one recount
Five new faces and one incumbent will join Holmes as councillors.
But one of those council seats is subject to a recount. Candidate Rob Ladouceur said that his agent asked for a recount after he came just two votes behind Jackie Luker (687 to 689) for the last council seat. “Two votes is so close.”
Luker agreed that a recount was needed. “Until that happens, I’m not feeling like I’m any kind of winner yet.”
The five confirmed councillors were Gordon Putnam (1,452 votes), incumbent Nicole Boutestein (1,205), Barry Turner (1,145), Stephen Dafoe (952), and Brennan FitzGerald (801).
Not making the cut were incumbent David Pattison (536), Ruth Shymka (509), Lawrence Giffin (457), Wayne Gatza (415), Jennifer Laurence (354), James O’Brien (353), Joseph Trapani (326), Brandy Keenleyside (320), and Brent Henry (279).
About 41 per cent of town residents cast a ballot in this election, said returning officer Jennifer Maskoske – a slight dip from 2010’s 43 per cent.
Recounts in the Holmes-Fingler and Luker-Ladouceur races would be done Wednesday morning, with results later that afternoon, Maskoske said. All results would be official as of Friday.
Visit www.morinville.ca for details.