Editorial – This time, a non-election

Jeff Burgar

It’s open for argument if, following the municipal elections last week, the dust will settle completely by the time the next elections happen four years from now.

After all, people are still arguing and complaining about the provincial election two years ago. You know, the one where Rachel Notley and her New Democrats came to power as the people of Alberta decided it was time to teach the then ruling Conservatives a lesson in tough love.

Back in our local politics, there was little that got people excited. New Big Lakes County councillor Ron Matula was defeated by even newer Donald Bissell in a tight race. Matula barely had a chance to get his bearings on council. Bissell won by two votes.

Actually, it is always a tight race in the Enilda ward. One year, it was a tie vote, with the winner drawn from a hat.

A gaggle of wannabe candidates in Grouard ended up being beaten by Fern Welch, returning to the battle after losing four years ago. Predictably, Robert Nygaard and Ken Killeen return to the council chambers in the Faust and Kinuso wards. Richard Simard handily beat incumbent Ed Podollan in Joussard.

If there was a reason for Podollan to lose, it wasn’t talked about much, especially since Simard is a newcomer to Joussard. But, Podollan is gone.

Several county councillors were elected because nobody would run against them. David Marx, Don Charrois, Ann Stewart and Ken Matthews all had no challengers. They must be doing something right, including paying out a “retirement bonus” that councillors sneaked in before the election.

In the High Prairie ward, the race for School Division trustee was a close fight. One would have thought both incumbents Joyce Dvornek and Tammy Henkel would be easy winners. Particularly Henkel, as she is HPSD chair. That wasn’t the case. Challenger Adrian Wong was actually ahead of Henkel several times during the vote count. It was only in the final tallies that Henkel won. This should send some kind of message, whatever that message might be.

High Prairie voters hardly turned out. Total voting was less than four years ago, perhaps due to campaigns that really didn’t stir up excitement. Even the much touted new Northern Lakes College campus location was not much of an issue. Voters returned the “troika” – the three town councillors who rarely, if ever, vote against each other on any motion of council, no matter how good or how silly the motion.

These three, Arlen Quartly, Debbie Rose and Brian Panasiuk, all won handily. Panasiuk defeated incumbent mayor Linda Cox, a candidate who brought good government and lower taxes back to High Prairie.

As of this writing, of the four other councillors, two are having second thoughts about staying. There may be another election shortly.

For the community itself, barely 35 per cent of voters came out. Now, everybody gets to enjoy the fruits of their vote, or non-vote, as the case may be.

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