Endorsements get mixed reaction from candidates

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Most St. Albert council candidates are not disclosing who they support for mayor, citing desire to work together with whoever gets elected as their primary reason for keeping their choice to themselves.

With some mayoral endorsements already in the public eye, the Gazette reached out to all candidates following the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce’s mayoral forum.

Many candidates said they have been fielding similar questions from residents throughout their campaigns.

Sandyne Beach-McCutcheon said she is “committed to working collaboratively with whoever is elected,” while Leonard Wilkins cited four reasons for keeping his vote private, including respect for the democratic process; a desire for people to vote for him based on his platform; a desire to work “respectfully and in a business-like manner” with whoever gets elected; and his intention to make decisions based on issues rather than who the mayor is.

Barry Zukewich said he would support the winning mayoral candidate unconditionally.

“I would encourage everyone to do their research and pick the one who best represents their own criteria,” he said.

Gilbert Cantin said he prefers to keep his vote private in order to have a positive start with whoever gets elected, while Jacy Eberlein said he is not endorsing any candidate “for the good of council unity.”

Mark Kay said he cast his vote in favour of who he thinks values the opinions of residents and councillors but added he looks forward to working with whoever residents vote in.

Jacquie Hansen, Jan Butler, Natalie Joly, Nestor Petriw, Hannes Rudolph, Charlene Jelinski and Ray Watkins said they are prepared to work with whoever gets elected as well.

“We have had too many years of bickering on council,” Petriw said.

Some candidates who chose not to disclose for this article said they have expressed their support publicly in other ways, such as through lawn signs.

Although nearly every candidate, including those for mayor, has promised to work together with the new council regardless of who gets elected, many expressed fears that publicly disclosing who they support would lead to further division.

“If I say I’m supporting (a candidate) and the other one I don’t support gets elected, then I’m going to be perceived as being in somebody’s camp,” Watkins said.

Rudolph said he doesn’t want any open wounds or hatchets to bury if he gets elected.

Several candidates, including some who provided responses, objected to the question being asked.

In an email to all candidates, Al Bohachyk said the question has “a huge potential to further polarize our community and especially a new council.”

However, he acknowledged that co-operation between certain candidates, clusters of lawn signs and social media comments leave “little doubt” about who supports who.

“It should be quite obvious to anyone who has watched the election developments over the last couple of months which council candidates are aligned with each mayoralty candidate, if at all,” he said.

Steve Stone said he agrees with Bohachyk.

Ken MacKay said although he is willing to work together with anyone who is elected and wants a respectful council, he was impressed with the performance of mayoral candidate Cathy Heron during the mayoral forum.

Five councillor candidates have made public endorsements, including all three incumbents.

Wes Brodhead announced on his blog Friday morning he will be voting for Heron.

“I valued her wisdom as she has articulated her positions on the many issues facing our community,” he wrote.

Sheena Hughes and Bob Russell have both publicly endorsed mayoral candidate Cam MacKay.

“(MacKay) was just incredibly impressive. He showed the leadership skills we’re looking for,” Hughes said following the mayoral forum.

Russell took out an ad in the Gazette on Wednesday which included an endorsement of MacKay.

“(I) respect him, think he did a great job for the two years I was on council,” he said.

Jaye Walter and Mark Cassidy have also endorsed MacKay.

“As a councillor, he was always ready to answer my questions and get back to me with any issues that I had concerns with,” Walter said, adding he approves of MacKay’s platform.

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April Hudson

April is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette