Preliminary 2022 Smithers municipal election results indicate incumbent Gladys Atrill has retained the mayor’s office over challenger Murray Hawse.
Following the general vote Oct. 15, Atrill garnered 983 votes compared to Hawse’s 772.
Atrill said the result tells her she’s got some work ahead to
We do have… a divided sense in the community, that it makes sense for all of us to try to bridge,” she said. “So definitely some work to do there to hear people and figure out what do we can do together to continue making this a great community.”
Hawse said that while he was disappointed in the result, he was happy his supporters came out to vote and hopes it sends a message to the new council.
“So, there’s still a lot of discontent, which is unfortunate in our communities,” he said. “We need to be looking after everyone and hopefully, they’ve got that mandate now, at least apart from the 45 or 44 per cent who voted the other way, and they’ll address that as long as some of the key issues that they’ve got to work on and maybe a challenge for the new council, but I’m sure they’ll do a good job.”
Despite the loss, Hawse said he would be staying involved.
“We’re definitely going to be trying to be there to hold them to account, to make sure we get some solid changes going,” he said. “There’s expressed interest in people from the public that wanted things, not just the homeless shelter, but a lot of other things, and hopefully they’ll address that going forward and that we do get more fiscal responsibility. We really do need this in this town, unfortunately.”
Voter turnout was very low at 43.5 per cent of eligible voters.
Atrill said it is concerning that so few people participate in the democratic process.
“Well, of course, it’d be nice to have better voter turnout all the time,” she said. “And yet, there seems to be something fairly consistent, not just in our community, but communities across the country, where people are either not aware or interested enough to go out, I don’t really know what we can do about that.”
Hawse also lamented the voter turnout.
“That is a shame,” he said. “So, I’m happy that our numbers were higher in this area than a lot of places, but it’s still not very healthy for democracy when you have less than 50 per cent of the people voting, unfortunately,” he said.
Also on the ballot were nine candidates for six council positions.
Both of the incumbent councillors, Frank Wray and John Buikema retained their seats, so there will be four new faces at the table when the new council is sworn in. Nov. 8.
Wray received the most votes at 1,312 (74.1 per cent)
Atrill’s new council will comprise Wray, Buikema, Calvin Elliott, Laura Leonard (Stanton), Genevieve Paterson and Sam Raven.
Smithers council preliminary voting results (in alphabetical order):
Nick Briere 662
John Buikema 1,095
Calvin Elliott 985
Adam Koch 560
Laura Leonard 975
Jason McCrindle 584
Genevieve Paterson 779
Sam Raven 844
Frank Wray 1,312
Atrill said she’s excited about working with the new council.
“So, we’ve got a lot of new insight on council,” she said. “We’re going to spend some time getting to know each other, there will be a council orientation, some education close to the beginning of the term, to help people get up to speed. We’ve got Finance Committee coming up, so, it’s going to be a bit of a trial by fire. People are going to be right in there learning about the details of how the organization works.”
For School District 54 (Bulkley Valley) four contenders battled for three Smithers/Glentanna/Driftwood (Zone 2) trustees positions with Floyd Krishan, Frank Farrell and Jason Krauskopf being elected.
In Zones 1 (Lake Kathlyn/Evelyn/Witset) and 3 (Telkwa/Quick) unopposed candidates will be acclaimed. For Zone 1 Ann P. Michell will be the trustee and for Zone 3 it is Kristina Graham.
On the Regional District side of the ticket, Stoney Stoltenberg ran unopposed and will be acclaimed as Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako director for Electoral Area A (Smithers).