Council now has two women
The big showdown for the reeve’s chair on M.D. of Lesser Slave River council turned out to be not so close after all. Voters returned Murray Kerik for his second term as reeve with a solid majority over Mike Skrynyk. The vote total was 571 for Kerik and 428 for Skrynyk. In terms of percentage of the vote, Kerik got 57 per cent of the 999 votes cast for reeve.
As far as council goes, “we’ve got two-and-a-half new faces,” Kerik quips. The ‘half’ new face is Jeff Commins in Div. II, who returns to council after one term off. He joins incumbents Brian Rosche and Brad Pearson as the Div. II councillors. In Div. I, newcomers Sandra Melzer and Becky Peiffer join incumbent Robert Esau on council. Esau nipped fellow incumbent Darren Fulmore by two votes! Incumbent Garry Horton finished a distant fifth in the Div. I vote. Melzer proved the predictions correct (or rather the voters proved it) when she won easily with the most votes in Div. I. Peiffer came second and Esau third, by a nose.
In Div. II, Brian Rosche was the top vote-getter, with 406; Pearson was second with 389 and Commins got 289.
“Pleased and grateful to the community,” was Commins’ reaction to his election. “And a little scared with some of the challenges coming up this term!”
Out of the running were first-timers Munir Mughal and Charlotte Measor.
Reached the day after the election, Kerik was upbeat about the new term, which as he sees it contain three major challenges.
“We’ve got the two agreements with the Town of Slave Lake,” he says. “And the zoning issues in Poplar Lane.”
The first two of those became hot-button issues late in the election campaign, when it was learned (and reported in this newspaper) that the M.D. had decided to reduce its share of the cost of running rec facilities in Slave Lake and of fire services. The town reacted strongly, raising the spectre of a once-friendly relationship going off the rails. There will be a lot of details on those agreements coming out in the next while and we will deal with them in separate stories. For now, the newly-elected reeve is feeling fairly confident about the prospects.
“It’s nothing that can’t be solved,” he says. “I’m looking forward to getting our agreements finalized with the town and finished up so we can move forward and be happy again.”
Esau agrees: “Somewhere in the middle is an acceptable compromise,” he says.
The zoning issue has to do with the conflicts between ‘country residential’ people (mainly in the Poplar Lane area) and the so-called ‘owner/operator’ residents who maintain trucks and such on their lots.
“We have to get it figured out,” says Kerik.
Getting it figured out might be possible, but certainly won’t be easy, or it would have been done long ago. But Kerik makes it plain he’s not in favour of making life too difficult for the truck owners.
Asked to comment on the election results, Kerik says he’s pleased to see two women joining the council and looks forward to working with them and the other successful candidates.
“I think we’re going to have a busy year,” he says.
Melzer, one of the rookies, is pleased with the result.
“It was very nice to have that kind of support,” she says. “I’m looking forward to getting going and representing the ratepayers.”
Peiffer, the other newbie on the scene, says she’s “pleasantly surprised and very grateful for the support.” She figures it’ll be “a huge learning curve. I just want to be a strong advocate for my supporters.”
Melzer, Peiffer and the other successful candidates will meet this Wednesday to be sworn in, after which they’ll participate in their first organizational meeting.
The turnout for the election was relatively high – likely helped by the battle at the top. The turnout percentage isn’t known because no figure has been provided for eligible voters. But 1,027 voters in a population of 3,000 seems decent. In the 2013 election, the voter turnout was 805.