Buckway wins majority of the minority

There was no overflowing champagne bottles or whoops of excitement at council chambers Thursday evening. The municipal election ran its course with relatively few surprises and a record low voter turnout of 37 per cent.

There was no overflowing champagne bottles or whoops of excitement at council chambers Thursday evening.

The municipal election ran its course with relatively few surprises and a record low voter turnout of 37 per cent.

When the first numbers started to roll in shortly after 9 p.m., it was clear the incumbents would steal the show.

Bev Buckway easily won another term as mayor, managing to maintain a steady lead over Al Fedoriak throughout the evening.

In the end she captured 60 per cent of the more than 4,000 votes cast for mayor.

The dismal voter turnout tainted her victory.

“It’s awful, really awful,” said Buckway. “I’m not sure what we can do about it. (The turnout) has been slipping year after year.”

In 2006, the turnout was 40 per cent, and was considered low.

Even the energy in the council chambers – election headquarters – was deflated.

When the polls closed at 8 p.m. there were only a handful of people milling about the room, nibbling on cookies.

It wasn’t until an hour later that the results from the advanced polls started to trickle in, and the rookie candidates in the room started to look nervous.

“What can I say, I think it’s time for a smoke,” said Jan Brault at around 10 p.m.

She found her name towards the bottom of the list, along with candidates Graham Lang and Skeeter Miller-Wright who were among the first candidates to enter the race.

Throughout the night, incumbent Jeanine Myhre’s name kept bouncing back and forth between sixth and seventh place. Eventually, she lost, bumped out by newcomers, Ranj Pillai and Betty Irwin, who made an impressive leap to second and third place in the polls, respectively.

Pillai slipped into council chambers to celebrate his win shortly after the final results came in at around 10:30 p.m. He had already stripped all his election signs from every boulevard in the city by the time he showed up.

“What’s most important for me now, after winning, is to stick to my platform – I don’t want to waver from that,” he said.

It wasn’t a lack of banner issues or a stacked hand of incumbents running for council that kept people from heading to the polls, said the city’s returning officer, Norma Felker.

“It just seems to be a trend, that people think it isn’t important to vote … all I know is that it’s disturbing,” she said.

Even issues that burned up the spotlight last year, like protecting McLean Lake, fizzled out at election time, noted Pillai.

Taxes and affordable housing were the issues that surfaced most frequently in the election.

But it wasn’t these topics that pushed 76-year-old Irwin ahead of incumbents Florence Roberts, Dave Austin and Dave Stockdale.

It was her name brand that likely did it, she said Friday.

Doug Graham, who won his fourth term on council, captured the most votes. But he didn’t even show up at the council chambers to celebrate his win.

He wasn’t alone. Only seven candidates put in an appearance.

Even Al Fedoriak, who promised as mayor he would swipe the reigns of control from city staff and relax city planning bylaws, breezed in shortly before 11 o’clock to say he wouldn’t be running again in the next election.

“The people have spoken,” he said.

Florence Roberts left early, saying she was heading home to celebrate her win with a gin and tonic.

And Dave Austin, who barely clung to his position on council, coming in sixth place with 8.5 per cent of the vote, was nowhwere to be seen.

With five of seven of the same people being sworn into council on the 26th, the city won’t see a drastic change in direction.

“I think basically it speaks to the fact that voters are satisfied with the status quo,” said Felker on Friday morning.

It was a sentiment Buckway echoed to reporters Thursday evening.

But for Michael Buurman, the young candidate who trailed last in the polls, it speaks more to the fact that little change will come in the next three years, especially on issues like the environment.

“I find it frustrating,” he said.

“When you pit the environment against fiscal responsibility it will always lose.”

Contact Vivian Belik at


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