Turnout high in Port, moderate elsewhere as islanders vote

  • Mon Nov 18th, 2002 10:00am
  • News

More than 1,200 islanders voted in civic elections Saturday Nov. 16, about the same number as in the 1999 election, electing a new mayor in Port Clements, new school trustees in Old Massett and Sandspit, and three new regional district directors.
In Masset, the campaign was quiet, with one candidate informally bowing out before election day, leaving only five competing for four council seats. Incumbents Janet Brown and Ed Woode were re-elected with 216 votes and 179 votes respectively. They will be joined by Rollie Wheeler (193 votes) and Lorrie Joron (182 votes). Kimiko von Boetticher received 160 votes, while Fraser Earl – who asked people not to vote for him – received 91 votes anyway.
Mr. Earl said he decided to drop out of the race after his house was broken into and his car stolen and wrecked, leaving him feeling less than positive about his community.
“The council deserves someone completely focused and completely positive,” he said, adding that he may consider another run at politics next time around.
Less than 300 voters turned out for the Masset election, said chief returning officer Trevor Jarvis, much less than the 400 who voted in the January 2001 by-election in which Barry Pages won the mayor’s seat. Mr. Pages was the only candidate for mayor this time around.
Mr. Pages’s acclamation, the relatively few council candidates, and the quiet campaign seem to show that Masset residents are pretty much satisfied with the way things have been going, Mr. Woode said.
“I’m happy that I was re-elected,” he said. “My main concern going into the election was the continuity.”
Mr. Wheeler said he was “pleasantly surprised” with his victory and said he is looking forward to getting down to work. He spoke to the Observer Monday morning from the Legion kitchen, where he was busy preparing a roast beef lunch for local seniors.
“I think we have a very good working group there,” he said about the new council. “And most of the voters seem pretty content with what’s happening here.”
That doesn’t seem to be the case in Port, where every incumbent except one lost their seat. Dale Lore was elected mayor with 92 votes, defeating Jean Traplin (70 votes) and former mayor Joan Ann Allen (61 votes).
Jukka Efraimsson, who worked for the village as its clerk-treasurer for 10 years, was elected for his first term on council with 135 votes – the most of any Port candidate. He will be joined by political veteran Gerry Johnson (131 votes), who has 19 years of service on council under his belt, and newcomers Lisa Gyorgy (100 votes) and Paul Waring (95 votes).
“I’m so excited, I haven’t stopped smiling,” said Ms Gyorgy, who spent two hours Saturday night in the parking lot outside the community hall waiting for the results to be announced. “I’m also excited about the other people who got on, because I want to learn, and they all have so much to offer.”
In Tlell, first-time candidate Ian Lordon celebrated Saturday night after scoring a close victory (147 votes to 129) over incumbent Ian Hetman of Tow Hill for the regional district Area D seat. Mr. Lordon won the Skidegate and Tlell polls by a large margin, while Mr. Hetman won the Port, Masset and Old Massett polls. Area D covers all Graham Island outside of Masset, Port Clements, and Queen Charlotte.
Carol Kulesha of Queen Charlotte will join Mr. Lordon at the regional district table in Prince Rupert after winning a landslide victory over Ken Peerless (259 votes to 56), as will Duane Gould of Sandspit, who beat out incumbent Bill Beldessi with 92 votes to Mr. Beldessi’s 77. Graham Evenson also ran for the Sandspit regional district seat, receiving 19 votes.
Mr. Gould – who has 12 years of previous experience as the community’s regional district director – said he was surprised by his win.
“The opposition ran a pretty hard campaign,” he said. “I was pleased and somewhat surprised by the support. It’s humbling.”
Mr. Gould said he was asked to run six or eight months ago by a group of people who promised to do all the campaign work if he would allow his name to stand. He said he’s committed to openness and transparency, adding that the regional district is a somewhat “low-key” level of government which doesn’t make many major decisions. His years in local politics have taught him one thing about islanders, he chuckled: “People want less regulation, but they want more regulation for everybody else.”
Mr. Evenson, who lost Gwaii Trust race as well as the regional district election, laughed as he described his “disgusting defeat” and said he will definitely continue to watch Sandspit politics with interest and may run again.
“I’ll be involved, it’s pretty hard to get away from politics in a little town like this,” he said.
The Gwaii Trust race saw incumbent Warren Foster, who has represented his community on the Gwaii Trust board since 1998, collect 139 votes, compared to 47 to Mr. Evenson.
“What really pleases me is we had a good turnout of voters and of candidates,” Mr. Foster said.
In school board elections, newcomer Margaret Edgars beat incumbent John Bennett to be Old Massett’s trustee, with 53 votes to Mr. Bennett’s 32.
“I thought it went really well,” Ms Edgars said. “I’m really looking forward to being on the school board, because our children’s education means a lot to me… I have a lot of grandchildren and nieces and nephews in the school system.”
Queen Charlotte incumbent Shirley Hawse was clearly the favourite in that community, polling more than half the votes in a four-way race. Ms Hawse received 180 votes, compared to 76 to Ellen Daniels, 44 for Ken Peerless and 29 for Michelle Pineault.
“I was overwhelmed by the support,” said Ms Hawse. “I am not a politician so I was not out there kissing babies.”
Ms Hawse said it usually takes a term just to figure out what you’re doing as a trustee, and she’s looking forward to accomplishing even more in the next three years.
Meanwhile, Mr. Peerless, who served as Queen Charlotte’s regional district director for one year in 1999 and ran for the Marijuana Party in the 2001 provincial election, said he is getting out of municipal politics, after losing both the school trustee race and the regional district election.
“I can’t think of any good reason to run again,” he said.
In Sandspit, Gail Henry was elected school trustee with 118 votes, defeating William Sheridan, who received 68 votes.
With a broken leg, Ms Henry was not able to do much campaigning, but said she is thrilled with her win and looking forward to her first term on the school board.
“There’s lots going on and there’s going to be more happening,” she said. “None of us want to lose what we have.”
Ms Henry was also re-elected to the Moresby Island Management Committee, where she will join Carole Bowler, William Quass, Gord Usher and Duane Gould.
Elected to the Queen Charlotte Management Committee are Vicki Ives, Claudia Ives, Ron McKee, Mark Salzl, Eric Ross and Ann Mountifield.