Slave Lake voters turned out in decent numbers last Wednesday to elect Brice Ferguson as town councillor in a byelection. He received 432 votes, of the 621 cast, or 69 per cent. His opponent, Rebecca King, received 184 votes. Those results were unofficial at press time, but likely will not change much, if at all.
Reached the day after, Ferguson said he is “very pleased,” at the result and is looking forward to serving on council.
“It’s going to be a learning experience,” he said.
The learning experience starts this week, with a swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday prior to the regular council meeting at 7:00 p.m.
This was the second byelection this term, which perhaps says something about the time commitment involved in serving on council. Last year at about the same time, Joy McGregor won in a three-way race to replace councillor Stefan Plouffe, who had served just over two years of his term. With councillor Diane Smith resigning a couple of months ago, council decided to hold a byelection (although it didn’t have to). Ferguson now has the better part of eight months to figure out what the job is all about before deciding whether to run again for a full four-year term.
“I’m happy to be sitting with an experienced council,” he told The Leader.
As for King, she vowed at the candidates’ forum a few weeks ago that if she lost, she’d definitely run in the general election in the fall. So she‘s got the inside track on whoever the competition turns out to be.
“I’m disappointed with the result,” she says. “But I will be back in October, for sure.”
The turnout at last week’s vote was 621. That compares to the 510 votes cast in the March 21, 2016, byelection; McGregor got 337 of those.
The Leader was unable to come up with a precise figure for the number of eligible voters in Slave Lake. The best we managed was to add up the poll-by-poll eligible voter numbers provided by Elections Alberta after the 2015 provincial election. Assuming they are accurate, Slave Lake had 4,135 people qualified to vote at that time. If that holds true, last week’s byelection turnout was 15 per cent. That doesn’t sound so great, but the 621 is one of the bigger turnouts for a council byelection in recent decades. Mayor Tyler Warman is pleased with it.
“It was so great to see a good voter turnout,” he says “I think both candidates campaigned (hard) and (I) have a lot of respect for both of them for putting their name forward and fighting hard to be part of our team. I hope to see the same enthusiasm and drive from our candidates in the fall election.”