Dan Curtis isn’t much of a smoker, but if he was, he said he’d be lighting a freshly legalized joint this weekend to celebrate winning a third term as mayor of the City of Whitehorse. Instead, he’ll go for Greek at Cosmos Restaurant.
“I think I’m just going to spend a little bit of time with my wife and kind of reflect on the fact that, yeah, I got a third term in my hometown,” he told the News in council chambers, following the election Oct. 18. “I’m excited. It’s very humbling, very exciting.”
Curtis won the seat with 2,933 votes, beating second place candidate Rick Karp, who got 1,908 votes. Colin LaForme came in with 1,511. Wilf Carter had 163. Kelly Suits received 148.
Curtis, Karp and LaForme were the only three mayoral candidates at city hall to watch as the poll numbers came in on a giant screen in council chambers. The majority of council candidates were also present.
Initial numbers came in around 8:20 p.m. (polls closed at 8 p.m.) and the top six councillor candidates remained steady through the night. Whitehorse’s councillors are: Jan Stick, Steve Roddick, Laura Cabott, Samson Hartland, Jocelyn Curteanu and Dan Boyd.
Stick and Roddick, who ran on a slate together, and Cabott will be new-ish faces around the council table (Stick previously served from 2005 to 2008. She was also NDP MLA for Riverdale South).
Hartland, Curteanu and Boyd were incumbents. Two-term councillor Betty Irwin was bumped from her seat, as was Roslyn Woodcock.
“I’m really saddened that we lost a couple councillors because you get tight,” Curtis said. “You go to war together, you know? But I’ve known Steve and Jan and I don’t know Laura as well, but she brings a lot of competence as well.”
Curteanu said it was the competence of all candidates that made the election such a whirlwind for everyone this year.
“It’s been very, very tiring,” she said. “Definitely this municipal campaign was taken up a couple notches … I think part of it is because a lot of the people that are running are experienced with campaigns at the territorial, even federal level.”
Candidate Danny Macdonald, who came in with 295 fewer votes than Boyd, said it was agonizingly close, and though he was disappointed, he was comfortable with the effort he put into his campaign.
“I think my mom was texting me more disappointed than I am but that’s OK,” he said. “You kind of knew, I think, that it was going to be close, so I kind of prepared for this in my headspace. And then you just kind of hope for the best and we ran out of track. Just couldn’t get enough in some of the polls we needed.”
Roddick, who was at the Woodcutter’s Blanket at 7:50 p.m., reminding patrons that polls were still open for 10 mote minutes, said he was relieved to see his name near the top of the pile when early results came in. Still, he measured his expectations, saying that though he knew he’d done a ton of legwork during his campaign, it was tough to know whether that effort had resonated with people, especially in such a strong field of candidates.
“This has been one of the most competitive elections in a long time, from what I’ve heard, so it’s been great, all around,” he said.
Mayoral candidate Colin LaForme said he thinks the results speak volumes about the city’s desire for change.
“Part of (my) message was change for the city and the votes came in that the majority of people did want the change, so I think you know, that’s a positive message.”
He said he can see himself running again in 2021. In the meantime, he said he’s happy to be able to return to his job as a bylaw officer with the city. LaForme had taken a leave to run for mayor, but already had a night shift scheduled for Oct. 19.
Candidates began congratulating winners well before the final poll numbers came in. There was a glitch with the tabulator at Vanier Catholic School (there had been one earlier in the day as well), so the 800 ballots had to be counted manually.
It was one of a few technical difficulties during election day.
Ballots from the 2015 election were accidentally handed out at City Hall, though only one person filled it out before it was caught and rectified by staff (the voter was then given a 2018 ballot to complete).
Myles Dolphin, spokesperson for the city of Whitehorse, said that a few deputy returning officers didn’t show up at polling stations, so replacements had to be found and trained at the last minute. This had a domino effect, which meant ballots and privacy dividers weren’t set up at some locations, including the Canada Games Centre and the Yukon government administration building (though staff did erect makeshift privacy booths until the real ones arrived).
Despite this, final numbers were in by 10 p.m., only an hour later than expected.
The new mayor and council will be sworn in on Oct. 29.
Contact Amy Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org