Lacombe votes for change
Supporters of Grant Creasey react to news of him winning the mayoral race on Monday evening at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
The second time was a charm for the City of Lacombe’s new mayor.
Grant Creasey captured the mayor’s chair Monday night, edging out incumbent councillor Peter Bouwsema 1,964 votes to 1,417. In 2013, he narrowly lost to outgoing mayor Steve Christie by just 63 votes.
“It feels really good. Speaking from experience being a second-place finisher, this is a much better feeling,” Creasey, who was elected previously as a councillor in 2010, said. “It’s a much more positive outcome this time around and I look forward to serving the people of Lacombe.”
Going forward, he says his aim is to create a more open and accessible government that is fiscally responsible, and one of his top priorities will be to hire a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
There will be a lot more change, however, than just the “positive change” he ran on which will be one of his first challenges as the new mayor of Lacombe.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces on council and administration,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty fresh, clean slate overall and I look forward to putting my fingerprint on some of it and working in concert with the new councillors and incumbent as well as our hardworking city employees.”
Results came in just shy of 10 p.m. due to some tabulating hiccups with the machines. The only incumbent councillor re-elected was Reuben Konnik, who took the sixth and final seat with 1,562 votes.
Don Gullekson was ahead of him with 1,575, as was Chris Ross with 1,622 and Jonathan Jacobson with 1,672 votes.
Leading all candidates in votes – including both mayoral candidates – was two of the three women in the race. Cora Hoekstra received 2,265 votes, second only to Thalia Hibbs with 2,457.
Hibbs, a former trustee for St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic School District, was the first to publically announce her council candidacy in June.
“It’s a whirlwind of emotions,” she said. “It feels really, really awesome. To have that many people believe in the vision I have is really powerful and I feel like I’ve got a strong mandate.”
Her focus is on “real, authentic engagement” and getting citizens involved with the decision making process, aside from the immediate concern of filling the CAO position and the budgeting process for the upcoming year.
She didn’t shy away, however, from saying council as a whole has a lot of work ahead of them.
“This is a new role for many. There’s a lot to learn – everything from how the governance structure works, and even just the simple mechanics of the day-to-day,” she said. “We have some experience – I do have that, obviously Reuben Konnik has that, the new may has that – so hopefully that will help make that a little more seamless but it’s going to be a big change and a lot of learning for sure.”
Incumbents who were not re-elected included Bill McQuesten (1,349), Wayne Armishaw (1,348) and Wayne Rempel (1,124). Joyce Smith (974) and Sandy "Pepper" Douglas (756) also ran.
Voter turnout dropped from the last election with 34 per cent with 3,419 of an approximate 10,000 eligible voters casting ballots. In 2013, there was a 37 per cent turnout with 3,294 of approximately 8,800 eligible voters casting ballots.