Sturgeon County voters gave a two-term councillor the boot Monday as they voted three fresh faces into office.
Sturgeon County residents in Divisions 3, 4, 5, and 6 elected Matthew McLennan, incumbent Neal Comeau, Deanna Stang, and Ronald Shaw to county council Oct. 18, according to unofficial results posted by returning officer Jesse Sopko. Mayor Alanna Hnatiw, Div. 1 Coun. Dan Derouin, and Div. 2 Coun. Kristin Toms won by acclamation.
New and old
Stang won 396 in Division 5, beating out four opponents to claim outgoing councillor Patrick Tighe’s seat.
Division 5 always seems to draw a lot of candidates, said Stang, who noted there had been five candidates in each of the last two elections there. She attributed this to the diverse nature of the riding, which features seven subdivisions and rural areas.
While roads are a common issue throughout the county, Stang said one of the top concerns she heard about from Division 5 residents is public safety.
“When I campaigned [here] eight years ago and I was knocking on doors, there was nowhere near the amount of [security] gates I came across this time,” she said.
“A lot of bad stuff is getting pushed out from the city into the county, and [residents] wanted protection.”
Stang thanked everyone who ran for their dedication and passion and hopes to work with them in the years ahead.
Shaw won Karen Shaw’s old seat in Division 6, defeating Jason Berry 305 to 241.
Shaw said he was excited by his win, as it has been a tight electoral race.
“We’ve got a lot of heavy traffic on the roads,” he said, when asked what his top priorities this term would be, and he hopes to get a heavy haul route established in the county.
Shaw also hopes to work on wellness initiatives in the region, particularly an expansion of the county’s trail system.
Comeau defended his seat in Division 4, defeating Robin Fuhr 428 to 222. He could not be reached for comment as of publication.
McLennan ousted two-term councillor Bokenfohr in Division 3 with 636 votes.
Bokenfohr, who earned 401 votes, was terse when reached by The Gazette Monday night.
“I’m glad the proper platform won, because my platform was copied,” he said, declining to elaborate on this claim when asked.
A comparison of McLennan and Bokenfohr’s campaign websites and remarks to The Gazette shows that both supported calls for improved rural broadband and a new fire hall in their division. The two websites otherwise appeared to have different focuses — Bokenfohr’s emphasized his accomplishments in office, for example, while McLennan focused on campaign promises — colour schemes, and designs.
McLennan could not be reached for comment by press time despite repeated attempts.
County returning officer Jesse Sopko said there are no election rules against copying an opponent’s platform. There are rules against vandalism and theft of election signs under the Criminal Code and Canada Elections Act, and he received several complaints about sign vandalism during the campaign. He issued a notice about this on Oct. 4 and called on residents to report such crimes to the RCMP.
Congrats from mayor
In an email, Hnatiw applauded everyone who decided to run for office in this challenging COVID environment and looks forward to getting to know the new councillors. She said council will have to reconsider its approach to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, as Bokenfohr has seats on many of that group’s boards and committees.
“I would like to thank Wayne for taking on that extra work and advocating for Sturgeon County at the federal level,” Hnatiw said.
Hnatiw said councillors will be in orientation training from Oct. 21 to 27, which will be done remotely due to the pandemic, where they will learn about governance matters such as the code of conduct. Council will also hold a Muni 101 training session with the councils of all five towns in the county within 90 days as outlined by the Municipal Government Act.
Some 27.8 per cent of county residents voted in the election, Sopko said. He attributed the low turnout to the fact that two councillors and the mayor were acclaimed.
Official election results will be posted by noon Oct. 22.