Russell wins by a landslide

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Roughly 10.5 per cent of eligible voters in St. Albert turned out at the polls earlier this week to elect a new councillor.

Bob Russell, a four-time previous council member, almost doubled the next closest contender. The 84-year-old Russell had a little less than 36 per cent of the 5,211 votes cast. Edward Ramsden, 26, who was running for the first time, placed second with 18.79 per cent of the vote.

There were eight candidates running to replace former councillor Gilles Prefontaine.

All the numbers are unofficial so far. The official results will be issued at noon on June 29, said Chris Belke, returning officer and chief legislative officer for the city.

The poll-by-poll break down will be released at some point after the official results, Belke said.

“(Russell) was first place in every poll except for one,” Belke said. Ramsden placed first in the North Ridge/Deer Ridge poll.

Belke said the 10.5 per cent turnout was “within the range of what we expected” though admitted St. Albert hasn’t had a recent byelection to compare the turnout to.

However, getting people out to the polls on a Wednesday in June for a byelection is a different task than a general municipal election in October, he noted.

For contrast, the 2013 municipal election drew about 38 per cent of eligible voters to cast a ballot.

Belke’s staff had to put the byelection on with only about two-months notice. With the general municipal elections they can start planning for them much further in advance and money is put aside every year for the next election.

“It was a significant effort,” Belke said, noting he’s pleased with some of the processes that were developed during the byelection. Some of them will be used in the next municipal election, scheduled for October 2017.

Councillor-elect Russell was already undergoing council orientation as he prepares to tackle his first council meeting on July 6. By Thursday afternoon – less than 24 hours after his election – he’d already met with the mayor and had lunch with his new council colleagues.

In the coming days, he’ll also be meeting with the city manager and getting overviews with the city’s general managers.

In May, staff estimated the byelection would cost the city $114,200. The 2013 general municipal election cost $140,000.

Belke said it’s too early to say what the total final cost for the byelection turned out to be.

Vote totals

Bob Russell – 1,860 votes – Elected
Edward Ramsden – 979 votes
Tash Taylor – 786 votes
Dawne Fowler – 512 votes
Mark Cassidy – 508 votes
Natalie Mikus – 277 votes
Mark Turnbull – 198 votes
Hughena Burke – 91 votes

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