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Change hits Watson Lake

A desire for "different management styles" is what pushed Watson Lake residents out to the polls last Thursday, said new Mayor Richard Durocher.

A desire for “different management styles” is what pushed Watson Lake residents out to the polls last Thursday, said new Mayor Richard Durocher.

More than 60 per cent of Watson Lake residents turned out to the polls to throw out the previous mayor and council.

Durocher, who has three times been mayor of Watson Lake, grabbed hold of the position from incumbent Nancy Moore in a landslide vote.

Durocher won with 329 votes while Moore garnered just 57.

Former councillors Brenda Leach, Sharon Miller and Patti McLeod were replaced by a new cast of councillors.

The clean sweep wasn’t too surprising to returning officer Jenny Skelton.

“There’s a tradition in the Yukon of (governments) getting completely wiped out,” she said.

But for Durocher, it was indicative of a need for change.

“The past council was running the municipality in a certain way ... the door wasn’t open, (residents) felt they weren’t being listened to,” said Durocher.

“I went out with a message of municipal change and more accountability and that message seemed to get out there,” said Durocher.

Moore disputed those differences.

“I served on council when he was mayor and there weren’t extremes in our management styles,” said Moore.

She’s a little disappointed she wasn’t re-elected but says her loss is partly a result of her not being able to campaign as much as Durocher.

“I wasn’t here for most of the election and hustling at the door is not my style,” she said.

“Richard is a good campaigner, so hats off to him.”

The new group of councillors include Cynthia Armstrong, Howard Fick, Rick Relkof and Beverly Lister.

It’s a group that is well known to each other and shares similar views, said Durocher.

“This council will build consensus instead of splitting votes,” he said, referring to the stalemates that often plagued the last council.

Durocher is hoping town hall meetings will provide residents input into the day-to-day workings of Watson Lake.

Durocher served as mayor of Watson Lake for 12 years before deciding to take a break last term.

One of the first issues his council will tackle is upgrading the water and sewer lines in Watson.

The new council will be sworn in Tuesday.

Contact Vivian Belik at