Flynn turfed in county

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UPDATE
Wednesday’s recount by returning officer Christine Beveridge confirmed that Wayne Bokenfohr had been re-elected as Div. 3 councillor, beating challenger Ken McGillis 366 to 361. Matthew McLennan’s vote total was revised down to 276 from 278. This story has been revised to reflect the recount results.

This story originally said the 2013 voter turnout was 45 per cent. This was based on an estimate provided by Tom Lysyk, the returning officer in 2013, soon after polls closed. The 2013 turnout was later reported by the county to be 38 per cent, said county spokesperson Sheila Moore. The story has been updated accordingly.

Sturgeon County voters gave Tom Flynn and many of his supporters the boot Monday – an outcome many of them blamed on negative campaigning by their opponents.

But the race for Division 3 was still up in the air, as the county’s returning officer has ordered a recount of the results.

With all polls reporting, the Sturgeon County election website showed that Alanna Hnatiw had become the county’s new mayor with roughly 53 per cent of the popular vote, beating Flynn 2,930 to 2,632.

Flynn said he was disappointed by this outcome, and attributed it to the negative nature of the campaign.

“We decided to stay very high with our campaign and wouldn’t get into the dirt. They won with it. So be it.”

Flynn said he did not see this as an indictment of his actions as mayor, saying that he believed he did the right things in office.

“I’m proud of what I did, and have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Instead, he said his opponents managed to win support by “selling” a certain story to the electorate, which, in his opinion “was mostly half-truths.” That, combined with complacency and lower turnout among his supporters, led to this result.

Flynn said he would go back to being a retired resident now, but stood ready to assist the new council with the transition if asked.

Hnatiw, who campaigned on a platform of improving communications with county residents, did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.

In a video posted on her Facebook campaign page, Hnatiw said that the county’s true strength was in its residents, and that for too long it had not seized the opportunities they represented through open lines of communication.

She thanked all her supporters for their help, and said she would continue to call on them to help shape the county and “shake things up.”

Council upheaval

Re-elected are Susan Evans in Div. 2, Karen Shaw in Div. 6, and Patrick Tighe in Div. 5.

Evans, who got 685 votes to Rudy van Woerkom’s 380, thanked all those who voted and vowed to work hard as she had in the past.

“It’s unfortunate there was such negativity going on,” she said of the campaign, which left little time to discuss the issues.

Shaw, who received 280 votes to Marty Derouin and Charlaine Pasemko’s 163 apiece, initially said, “I am fearful for the county,” on Monday night when asked about the election results.

She retracted that remark Tuesday, saying she had been “shell-shocked” when she made it. Instead, she said she would focus on governance and working hard for Division 6.

“It’s new council, it’s a new slate, and I want to go in with a positive attitude.”

She stood by her statement that “Susan (Evans) and I won our seats and SUREAL won the rest,” however – a reference to the Sturgeon United Residents for Effective Accountable Leadership group.

Tighe, who fended off four challengers with 412 votes, said in a text message that he was humbled by the results and looked forward to the next four years representing all county residents.

Challenger Vicki Zinyk came second in Div. 5 with 357 votes, followed by Frank Klassen (116), Jacob Middelkamp (63) and Maxwell Power (41).

At the close of polls, Wayne Bokenfohr appeared to have held his seat in Div. 3, but was just five votes ahead of challenger Ken McGillis (366 to 361). Candidate Matthew McLennan placed third with 278 votes. McGillis requested, and received, a recount, which happened Wednesday.

Returning officer Christine Beveridge reported that Bokenfohr was still the winner after the recount, beating McGillis 366 to 361. McLennan’s vote total was revised down to 276.

Also knocked from their seats were Div. 1’s Ferd Caron and Div. 4’s Jerry Kaup.

Dan Derouin became the new councillor of Div. 1 with 621 votes to Caron’s 440, and said he was excited by Monday’s results.

“We’ve actually got a council that honestly and truly is going to work together.”

Derouin said he had an overwhelming amount of volunteer and public support during the campaign, and now had a chance to prove he could to the job.

When asked about the often-negative nature of the election campaign, Derouin acknowledged the many ads placed by landowner Len Kozak, which criticized Flynn, Caron, Shaw, Kaup, and Evans.

“This individual has legitimate concerns,” he said, ones that council would now have a chance to sit down and resolve.

Over in Div. 4, Neal Comeau unseated Kaup with 572 votes to the latter’s 285.

Kaup said he was a bit surprised by this outcome, and attributed his loss to “fake news” spread by members of SUREAL, which had actively campaigned against council for months. He also alleged that Kozak was part of that group. (Kozak has previously stated that he was acting independent of any group or candidate.)

“I guess there are some gullible people out there, more than I thought.”

Kaup said he had mostly run to support Flynn, and was kind of relieved that he lost when Flynn didn’t get in.

“I’m off the hook and I’m free as a bird. I’ve been there long enough.”

Comeau is a good man and will be an effective councillor if he thinks for himself, Kaup said.

Comeau did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.

Some 36 per cent of county voters (or 5,562 people) participated in Monday’s election, county spokesperson Sheila Moore reported. About 38 per cent of the electorate voted in the 2013 election.

Official election results will be posted at sturgeoncounty.ca this Oct. 20. Council next meets this Oct. 24.

Legal and Bon Accord

Over in Legal, incumbents Carol Tremblay (222), Pat Hills (197) and Trina Jones (161) were re-elected, and will be joined by newcomers Fred Malott (222) and Annette Hammond (208), reports the town’s website. These councillors will choose a mayor from amongst themselves at their next meeting.

In Bon Accord, former councillor Dave Hutton beat Bonny Swart-Attwood for the mayor’s chair 238 to 182, replacing the outgoing Randolph Boyd. Hutton leads a brand new council of Lynn Bidney (308), Brian Holden (338), Jennifer MacArthur (227) and Tanya May (224). Incumbent Lorna Pocock placed sixth with 167 votes, reports the town’s website.

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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.