After four weeks, three debates, hordes of snappy signs and a whole lot of hard work by the Yellowknife municipal candidates, here is your mayor and council:
The most exciting story of the night appears to be voter turnout. Last election 4500 people showed up to vote in the municipal election. Today saw 5890 votes cast in the mayoral race, an increase of almost 1400 votes.
Re-elected mayor Mark Heyck attributes the high turnout to the coincidence of the federal and municipal elections, as well as local get out the vote efforts like #RockTheVoteYK. He also suggested controversial e-democracy platform IserveU had an effect on voter turnout: “Whether you agreed with the platform or not, I think people had quite strong feelings about it. There was a lot of discussion not just about the platform itself, but about the whole idea of engagement in democracy, and how we go about doing that in 2015 as opposed to 20, 50, or 100 years ago.”
Although it was always a long shot for challenger John Himmelman, whose numbers were surprisingly solid for a no-budget/no-campaign campaign, Heyck’s been returned with a strong mandate (76 percent of the vote) to continue with his push for downtown revitalization, housing first, more high-density housing and an active role by the City in land management. He’ll also likely continue his push for the Canada Winter Games. However, with the majority of the newly elected councillors skeptical at best about hosting the games, it’s going to prove a difficult project to push through.
“A majority will decide at the end of the day,” said Heyck, noting that the four new councillors will need to get up to speed on the issue before deciding. The report by the working committee will be out in the coming weeks and an expression of interest has to be in by the end of the year. A binding vote by council won’t happen until sometime in next year.
Overall, this council appears to be fairly similar across the political spectrum as the last one. Leaning to the right you have Alty, Bell, Konge and Payne; leaning to the left, Bussey, Morgan and Morse. It’s a bit hard to say where Silverio will fall, but our guess is he’ll line up with the latter group. For the most part, this seems to be a balanced council – amenable to business and development but environmentally minded and focused on downtown revitalization and dealing with social issues.
It will be interesting to see how this new council approaches the 50/50 lot. In the last meeting before the election began, council voted to adopt the plaza plan for the 50/50 lot “for information,” but weren’t particularly happy about it. Many of the then-councillors wanted administration to come back with more options before deciding to allocate money to the project in the 2016 budget or applying for the next phase of federal CanNor funding. Three of the four incumbents (Alty, Bussey and Konge) opposed the purchase of the lot in the first place, and even Bell, who voted for the purchase was skeptical of the plaza plan. Of the newcomers, Morgan and Morse were (very) broadly in support of the plan, while Payne and Silverio seem to be skeptical of it (at least based on their comments to the media during the campaign).
Another big story of the night was the fate of IserveU. Though they only managed to get one of their three candidates, Rommel Silverio, onto council, Yellowknife has still made not just national, but international history. The IserveU system itself has been watered down to the point where it’s mostly of an information-gathering tool (unless a large number of people vote on any given issue), and Silverio quite likely won his seat because of his roots in the Filipino community rather than his connection to IserveU, but still: Yellowknife has just elected the first e-democracy representative in the world.
The new council will be sworn in at noon on Monday, Nov. 2. That will be followed by a Municipal Services Committee meeting, though business proper won’t really get underway until the following Monday with regular MSC and council meetings. The first priority of council will be dealing with the budget; discussion should begin in November, although line-by-line deliberations won’t start until December. After that, council will be setting its three-year priorities and objectives in January.
The vote totals for candidates: