Heron topples competitors for city’s top job

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Mayoral candidate Cathy Heron secured a win over competitors Cam MacKay and Malcolm Parker Monday night, becoming the second female mayor in St. Albert city history.

Unofficial results released by the city late Monday night put Heron in the lead by nearly 4,000 votes. In all, Heron received 10,714 votes, while MacKay received 6,840 and Parker received 3,905.

Official results will be released after noon on Friday.

Heron will have incumbents Wes Brodhead and Sheena Hughes and new councillors Natalie Joly, Jacquie Hansen, Ray Watkins and Ken MacKay by her side for the next four years.

The mayor elect said she is “over the moon” with the win and that her first priority is to focus on building strong relationships with her council counterparts. She plans on meeting one-on-one with all of the new councillors over the next week to begin to foster positive relationships.

“Councillor Hughes will probably be my first call. We will find some common ground,” Heron said.

The two-term councillor said that she is very excited to work with the new group.

“I would have been happy with almost anyone. There were some really qualified candidates,” Heron said.

She said that one of her first priorities is governance training and she wants to see all council members attend orientation.

“It is so important. You can always learn something new,” Heron said.

Ken MacKay, Hansen and Brodhead waited for the results with Heron at the Century Casino. Watkins and Joly arrived after the results were announced to huge applause. Hughes celebrated her win at the Celtic Knot with Cam MacKay.

The mayor-elect was introduced to an excited crowd by outgoing Mayor Nolan Crouse. Heron teared up, thanking the crowd for their support.

Crouse said he’s happy with the election results.

“Just knowing the individuals, I would say it’s a progressive council,” he said.

As results were announced, Cam MacKay gave a concession speech to a large group of supporters who had gathered with him at the Celtic Knot.

He thanked everyone who helped him on his campaign, including David Bonner and Sheena Hughes, who he credited with convincing him to run for mayor in the first place.

“I’d really like to thank her because I know she’s going to be the voice of reason on this council,” he said.

MacKay said he isn’t disappointed by the loss and is glad the election season has come to an end.

“I’m really proud of the campaign that we ran. I’m really proud of the message we got out and I’m really proud of you guys,” he told the crowd.

“I put my best foot forward, and there’s nothing wrong with losing as long as you do your best.”

He added he is looking forward to returning to private life.

“This is it for me,” he said when asked whether he would consider running for election in the future.

Parker spent his night at Central Social Hall with his team while he waited for the results. Parker thanked his supporters for volunteering so much time and effort to his campaign but said he was disappointed with the results of the race.

“I’m not happy with who got elected. It’s going to be a challenge for the next four years,” Parker said.

Parker said that he is concerned with the lack of business experience on the council that was elected.

Although he said he doesn’t know what his next move will be, Parker is still involved in politics at the provincial level. He is the former president of the St. Albert Wildrose Constituency Association and is now serving on the board of the St. Albert United Conservative Party (UCP) Constituency Association.

Campaign

The election came on the heels of a municipal inspection by George Cuff which highlighted the controversial behavior and public infighting of the previous council. After weeks of a contentious campaign Heron said that she felt “vindicated” by the results.

The campaign kicked off a battle between the two warring factions on the previous city council. The long-time feud between MacKay and Crouse surfaced many times during the race.

Both Heron and MacKay’s campaigns suffered blows during the month-long competition with each candidate having allegations of improper expenses.

Parker positioned himself in the middle of the two camps and was asking residents to turf the incumbents and elect him to end the fighting.

Heron is the second female mayor in city history. Anita Ratchinsky served three terms as mayor from 1989 to 1998. During two of those terms, she chaired a majority-female city council team with three women at her side.

This will be Heron’s first term as mayor after two terms serving as a city council member. She was first elected to council in 2010.

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St. Albert Gazette reporters Jennifer Henderson and April Hudson team up to bring you extensive coverage on important community topics.