Flynn wind sweeps Sturgeon County

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Tom Flynn trounces Don Rigney in election

Sturgeon County has its first new mayor in six years – Tom Flynn – who says he plans to take the county on a new, more collaborative course with its neighbours.

Flynn was declared the winner of the 2013 Sturgeon County mayoral election Monday at about 10:30 p.m., beating incumbent Don Rigney 3,560 to 1,980. Rigney had been county mayor since 2007.

It was a decisive victory, said Flynn, one that sends a strong message to council about its recent actions.

“The county was ready for a change,” he said. “We can’t continually go around and poke people in the eye and expect their co-operation.”

Flynn said he will try to take the county in a direction that’s more co-operative with its neighbours.

“We can’t always be on the offence,” he said. “We have to give and take.”

He’s confident that such an approach will help the county’s municipal development plan pass the Capital Region Board and yield improved support from the province.

“I think we’ll get real good co-operation from them very soon.”

County residents should expect a more collaborative council that puts renewed emphasis on the community and local business, Flynn said.

“The people talked loud about what we were not doing to take care of people who were in the county,” he said. “We had too much focus on what could be and were not paying attention to the business guys and the people who were here right now.”

That means putting more work into the county’s industrial parks and helping community groups build more parks and rinks, Flynn said.

Rigney could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.

Council swept save one

Flynn will be surrounded by unfamiliar faces when he returns to council next week. With the exception of Karen Shaw, every incumbent was turfed in Monday’s election.

Ferd Caron took Division 1 with 463 votes, beating Dan Derouin (380) and incumbent Don McGeachy (213).

Caron said he gave his wife a big hug when he got the news.

“I’m ready, willing and wanting to make a change in the way we do business,” he said.

McGeachy did a good job as councillor, Caron said, but it’s clear that residents wanted a change in council.

“When you have 19 candidates for six positions, it tells you that there’s a lot of change in the wind.”

Susan Evans took Flynn’s old Division 2 seat with 633 votes – more than challengers Thomas Yurchak (316) and Barry Lupyrypa (130) combined.

Evans said she was surprised and humbled by her win.

“It was a lot of hard work. It’s been eight months of preparation for me … It’s definitely been gratifying.”

Wayne Bokenfohr bested John Bowes and Ian Skinner to succeed Ken McGillis as Division 3 rep. Bokenfohr earned 376 votes, or 31 more than John Bowes and 213 more than Ian Skinner.

“It was a lot closer than I thought,” Bokenfohr said of the contest. “I think people were looking for a little bit of change and a little bit of youth.”

He added that he hoped his platform struck a chord with voters.

Returning for a seventh term in Division 4 is Jerry Kaup, who ousted incumbent David Kluthe 422 to 335. Corey Graham came in third with 87 votes.

Kaup said he kind of expected this result from what he heard door-knocking.

“The people out there were kind of fed up with what was going on,” he said, and wanted the “Rigney Three” of McGeachy, Kluthe and Rigney gone.

“They went down together.”

With 18 years of council under his belt, Kaup said he hopes he can act as a mentor and bring this council together.

“We’ll have our differences, but once it’s done, hopefully we’ll have accomplished something.”

Patrick Tighe took Division 5 with 332 votes, with Deanna Stang (289), incumbent Joe Milligan (185), Jacob Middelkamp (142) and Wayne Bullock (133) trailing.

Tighe said he had mixed feelings on his win, as he had hoped to work closely with Rigney, Kluthe and McGeachy.

“I have to go in there with eyes and ears open,” he said, and represent all county residents.

Shaw earned a third consecutive term as Division 6 rep Monday, beating Rick Kuefler 388 to 216.

Shaw said she was pleased by the county’s new positive direction.

“I think we’ve got a very co-operative, diverse council.”

She credited her win to her reputation for hard work.

“I’m a very strong voice for (Div. 6) at the council table, and they recognize that.”

Voter turnout was about 45 per cent, said county returning officer Tom Lysyk – far above the 20 to 30 per cent the county usually gets.

“It was steady all day voting,” he said.

Results become official this Friday. Visit www.sturgeoncounty.ca for details.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.