Cranbrook has elected a new mayor.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, Wayne Price won the election for the city’s top office, defeating incumbent mayor Lee Pratt, who has held the role over two terms since 2014.
Price won with 60 per cent of the vote, with 2,721 ballots cast in his favour, while Lee Pratt garnered 1,758 ballots.
Out of an estimated 16,169 eligible voter base, 4,479 ballots were cast — a 27 per cent voter turnout.
Price, the city’s former fire chief who served the last four years on city council, celebrated the win with his campaign team and supporters at the Cranbrook Curling Centre on Saturday evening after the polls closed.
“It feels really, really good, a lot of work,” said Price, in an interview with the Townsman after the unofficial results came in. “We’ve been preparing probably for six months.”
He noted three immediate priorities include heading into the city’s annual budget planning process, forming a working group of organizations and non-profits to address issues around homelessness, crime and substance use, and establishing better relations with the provincial government.
“There’s way more issues than people realize. We’re hearing about the homeless, we’re hearing about the drugs, we’re hearing about the crime and we’re hearing about affordable housing,” said Price, while also lamenting the election’s low voter turnout.
“I think it’s really deeper than that in the community, I don’t think we have a real healthy community right now and it really concerns me.”
On the makeup of the city council, which includes four incumbents and two new faces, Price waxed philosophical, noting the importance of discussion and debate.
“To me, it really didn’t matter,” he said. “My role is to facilitate council. Seven of us are going to make a decision and I’m going to facilitate meetings, I’m the last guy to talk.
“And we’re going to vote, and council makes the vote — whether it’s a 6-1 vote or a 4-3 vote — we move on, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Price also gave a nod to Pratt’s eight years of service to Cranbrook in the mayor’s office.
“Lee had the best intentions for the city. We all want the same thing, it’s just how we were going to get there,” Price said.
All four incumbent city council candidates won re-election, as Norma Blissett, Ron Popff, Mike Peabody and Wes Graham will serve for another four years. Political newcomer Lynnette Wray had the highest turnout in her favour with 72 per cent of the vote, while Wayne Stetski was also successful in a bid to the city council table.
“I certainly appreciate everyone’s support, it’s very humbling.” said Wray, during an interview on Sunday. “I appreciate everyone who voted and I appreciate everyone who included me on their ballot.
“I think our message about bringing some new perspectives and a new voice to city council resonated with people. My focus is going to be on being positive, proactive and professional and I really want to focus on making sure we have excellent governance around the council table.”
Wayne Stetski makes a return to municipal governance with a successful bid to city council, after serving a four year term as mayor between 2011-14, before moving into federal politics as the region’s elected Member of Parliament.
“I’m very happy to be back serving and working with the people of Cranbrook in this new capacity,” said Stetski.
He added the city council slate has a good mix of knowledge and values, which will lead to good discussions and debate.
“I really believe in the value of people doing their homework and coming prepared and being willing to debate and discuss and of course, once a decision is made, you move on together as a team, but we need lots of good debate and discussion,” Stetski said.
Elsewhere around the East Kootenay, Nic Milligan defeated incumbent Ange Qualizza in the Fernie mayoral race, while David Wilks won re-election in Sparwood. Following the retirement of long-time mayor Dean McKerracher in Elkford, city councillor Steve Fairbairn was successful in a bid for the mayor’s office.
Both Don McCormick in Kimberley and Al Miller in Invermere ran unopposed and will be acclaimed.
For the RDEK elections, directors Rob Gay (Area C), Susan Clovechok (Area F) and Stan Doehle (Area B) were all acclaimed.
Thomas McDonald was successful for Area A, winning a seat vacated by longtime director Mike Sosnowski, while Jane Walter won re-election in Area E. Roberta Schneider won election for Area G in a seat that was vacated by Gerry Wilkie, another longtime RDEK director.
Trustees for the Southeast Kootenay (SD5) Board of Education are now set, as Cranbrook has five trustee positions, while four others are elected out of the South Country and Elk Valley regions.
Irene Bischler, Chris Johns, Trina Ayling, Doug McPhee and Wendy Turner have been elected to represent Cranbrook and Area C, the rural area outside Cranbrook.
Incumbent Bev Bellina was elected out of Sparwood and Area A (rural Elk Valley), while Alysha Clark was acclaimed for Area B (South Country, Jaffray and Baynes Lake), Sarah Madsen was acclaimed for Elkford and Area A (rural Elk Valley), and Nicole Heckendorf was acclaimed for Fernie and Area A (rural Elk Valley).
Cranbrook preliminary results
• Wayne Price - 2,721
• Lee Pratt - 1,758
• Lynnette Wray - 3,244
• Mike Peabody - 3,181
• Norma Blissett - 3,147
• Ron Popoff - 2,959
• Wes Graham - 2,603
• Wayne Stetski - 2,114
• Jeremy Youngward - 2,066
Southeast Kootenay (SD5) Board Of Education:
• Irene Bischler - 2,570
• Chris Johns - 2,459
• Trina Ayling - 2,337
• Doug McPhee - 2,387
• Wendy Turner - 2,231
• Stan Chung - 1,869