Paul Sinclair era over in M.D. of Opportunity
In High Prairie, challenger Brian Panasiuk crushed incumbent mayor Linda Cox for mayor. He received 63 per cent of the votes. Otherwise, it was pretty much a ‘stay the course’ type of indication from voters, who returned five incumbents to council. The only newcomer is Judy Stenhouse. The returning incumbents are Arlen Quartly, Donna Deynaka, Debbie Rose, Michael Long and Brian Gilroy.
The County of Big Lakes council will not see a lot of new faces; that was known going in, with four of the nine-member council being acclaimed. Those are Ken Matthews (who served as reeve the last couple of terms), Ann Stewart, Don Charrois and David Marx. On the other hand, incumbents Ed Podollan (from Joussard) and Ron Matula (Enilda/Big Meadow) lost out to challengers Richard Simard and Donald Bissell. The incumbents from Faust and Kinuso (Robert Nygaard and Ken Killeen) easily won re-election over challengers Christopher Brown and Scott Astle.
Incumbent Frank Sutherland didn’t fare so well in the Grouard ward; turnout was low, but former councillor Fern Welch was returned with more than three times the votes Sutherland got. It was the most hotly contested ward in the county, with half a dozen candidates.
The county does not have an election for reeve – he or she is chosen by councillors from among their number.
Up north in the M.D. of Opportunity, incumbent reeve Paul Sinclair was running for his umpteenth term, although not as reeve. Opportunity has changed to the reeve being chosen by council, similar to what Big Lakes County does. Results were a bit slow in coming in, but when they did, they showed Sinclair not re-elected as Ward I councillor, meaning his multi-decade run as reeve is over.
The four successful candidates in Ward I (Wabasca) are Marcel D. Auger, Everett Gottfried, Robin Guild and Darlene Jackson. Guild’s lead on fifth-place finisher Dwayne Calliou was only one vote, sparking a recount.
Brendan Powell was the successful candidate from the ward that includes Red Earth Creek, defeating two former councillors Georges Jadot and Dollie Anderson, among others. Also in the new council will be Victor Gladue and Barry Schmidt (Calling Lake), Kevin Bigstone (Sandy Lake), Louis A. Cardinal (Peerless Lake), Leo Alook (Trout Lake) and Roy Yellowknee (Chipewyan Lake).
Deputy CAO Deborah Juch told The Leader the bylaw to change the way the reeve is selected was done to give all councillors a crack at it. She said the way it’s set up is the chosen member will serve as reeve for a year; then there’ll be another internal vote to choose the next one.
Meanwhile, two races in Westlock County were close enough to warrant recounts. Lou Hall had a three-vote lead on Raymond Marquette in Div. 3 and Darrell Osmond had a one-vote lead on Don Savage in Div. 5.
Also on the Westlock County ballot was the question whether the county should sell off the Tawatinaw Valley Ski Club or not. Voters said ‘yes’ by a fairly narrow margin. Plainly stated in the information brochure on the question was the possibility that if sold, the ski hill might not continue to be a ski hill. The cost to the county of operating Tawatinaw has gone up sharply in recent years. The most recent figures in the brochure were for 2013, when it cost $123,000. In 2008 the cost to the county was around $30,000.
In Athabasca County, six of the nine council positions were contested, with Dennis Willcott, Travais Johnson and Doris Splain being acclaimed. Winners in the remaining six wards were Dwayne Rawson, Christine Bilsky, Kevin Haines, Penny Stewart, Larry Amfelt and Griffin Warren.