Returning officer Jesse Sopko announced late on Dec. 14 that a recount of the Div. 6 byelection had been requested under Sect. 98 of the Local Authorities Election Act. The recount was held at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 15.
On Dec. 15, Sopko said the recount had confirmed the original results of the Division 6 byelection, and that Jason Berry had been declared elected. Berry was to be sworn in at 1 p.m. Dec. 17.
Jason Berry has become Sturgeon County’s newest councillor in a tie vote decided by drawing names from a metaphorical hat.
Berry was declared the winner of the 2021 Division 6 byelection in Sturgeon County late on Dec. 13 after election officials executed a legally-mandated tie-breaking procedure.
When all the ballots were counted, election officials found that Berry and Marty Derouin had tied with 66 votes apiece, explained returning officer Jesse Sopko.
In accordance with Section 99 of the Local Authorities Election Act, Sopko wrote Berry's and Derouin's names on opposite halves of an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper, cut the paper into equal halves, folded them, placed them in a receptacle, and directed deputy returning officer Dianne Mason to pick a half at random. Berry’s name was picked, so he was declared to have one more vote than Derouin.
Reached by phone Monday night, Berry said he was ecstatic to learn he had won, as he had been running for office since last March.
“I knew it was going to be close,” he said of the vote, due to low voter turnout and the number of candidates.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this close!”
Derouin said he was amazed by Monday’s result, and was not sure if he would seek a recount.
According to Section 103 of the Local Authorities Election Act, anyone who was eligible to vote in the Division 6 byelection can apply for a judicial recount of the results within 19 days of the vote by filing an affidavit in provincial court that alleges reasonable grounds for the belief that votes were not properly counted. Applicants must also make a $300 deposit.
Sopko said Monday’s byelection results would become official at noon Dec. 17. Berry was to be sworn in as councillor at a council meeting held shortly thereafter.
Chris Hughson placed third in the byelection with 53 votes. Ron Start came last with 48. Some 233 people voted in the byelection, for a voter turnout of 10.2 per cent.
Detailed byelection results are available at sturgeoncounty.ca/election.
Shaw seeks NDP nod
Berry replaces former Division 6 councillor Karen Shaw, who did not seek re-election in October.
In an interview Dec. 13, Shaw said she made that decision because she wanted to run for provincial office. She announced that she was seeking the Alberta NDP’s nomination in the riding of Morinville-St. Albert earlier on Dec. 13.
“[Premier Jason] Kenney’s budgets and botched pandemic response have cost many Albertans their lives and livelihoods,” she said in a press release.
“We need much better representation at the provincial level.”
An active volunteer and farmer who raises Simmental X Angus cattle near Redwater, Shaw said her 14 years on county council proved that she is committed to public service.
“The community needs a representative with compassion, experience, and a commitment to focusing on improving the lives of residents and businessowners,” she said in an interview.
“I’ve been the voice of residents for Sturgeon County and I think I can make a positive difference at the provincial level.”
Shaw said she is excited about Alberta’s future, and believes NDP leader Rachel Notley is the only person capable of leading the province.
“She believes in the people and believes in doing the right thing.”
Shaw is the first of what could be many confirmed candidates running for the NDP nomination in Morinville-St. Albert, which does not currently have a nominee, said St. Albert NDP MLA Marie Renaud. Once riding officials set a date for a nomination contest, local party members will get to vote for a candidate to run in the next provincial election.
Morinville-St. Albert covers Morinville, Bon Accord, Legal, Gibbons, Redwater, the east half of Sturgeon County, and the northeast end of St. Albert. It is currently represented by UCP MLA Dale Nally.