Prince Rupert has a new leader at the helm with Herb Pond elected to mayor with 1,486 votes, on Oct15. This will be Pond’s third time as the city leader after holding office for a previous two terms from 2002 to 2008.
In Prince Rupert, Chrystopher Thompson came second to Pond with 885 votes. Jason Hoang placed third and Stephen Fitzpatrick fourth, with 396 and 69 votes respectively.
Pond said every mayoral candidate showed that they really cared about Prince Rupert and he’s hoping that they can find ways to harness that energy.
The poll results show five incumbent counsellors were re-elected to Prince Rupert’s council with one new face joining the team.
Barry Cunningham received the most votes at 2075, followed by Wade Niesh (1831 votes), Teri Forster (1755 votes), Reid Skelton-Morven (1697 votes), Nick Adey (1622 votes) and Gurvinder Randhawa (1596 votes).
“Every mayor gets the council that the people give them, and I’m grateful for the council that the people of Prince Rupert have assembled and we’re going to get together and get very effective at learning how to work with eachother. I think it’s exciting,” Pond said.
He expects the city’s governing body to just keep moving forward.
“We’ll assemble the new council as quickly as possible. We’ll agree on the directions we want to keep going in and if there’s any tweaks people want to make, but we’ll just keep forging ahead.”
Sheila Gordon-Payne and Andy Chugh were not elected after earning 1454 and 816 votes, respectively.
“I’d like to congratulate the incoming mayor, new and returning elected councillors as well as the school trustees on being chosen to represent the community. It’s both a challenging and exciting time to be a leader in Prince Rupert,” outgoing mayor of Prince Rupert, Lee Brain said.
In the neighbouring community, Port Edward re-elected Knut Bjorndal to the top spot with 125 votes.
Shawn Pettitt came in second with 81 votes and Carl Schmidt came in third with 12 votes.
Three councillors will be returning to Port Edward council with one newcomer added to the group, similar to Prince Rupert.
Colleen McDonald, the only non-incumbent to council, received the most votes at 170, followed by Dan Franzen (165 votes), James Brown (149 votes) and Christine MacKenzie (134 votes).
Kevin Mudge placed fifth with 111 votes, 23 votes shy of a spot on council.
At this point all election results are unofficial, the official tallies will be released next week.
Prince Rupert saw 2,888 of 8,970 eligible voters participate in the election on Oct. 15 (32 per cent). This is the same percentage of residents as the 2018 municipal election when 2,913 people voted out of 9,000 eligible voters (32 per cent).
Port Edward had a lower voter turnout this year compared to the last municipal election, with 220 of 403 eligible voters casting a ballot (55 per cent) versus 239 of 387 eligible voters (62 per cent) who participated in the election in 2018.
Brain, who has now passed the mayoral torch on, reflected on how much was accomplished by the city’s council since he started his term as mayor at 29.
“I’ve learned a lot, and am proud of what we were able to accomplish over the last eight years – especially getting Watson Island back on the tax roll, replacing the dam and getting funding for water treatment, and co-developing the 2030 Vision with the community and industry partners.”
“Now, it’s time for the next group of leaders to continue to see Prince Rupert reach its potential, and I’m excited to see that happen,” Brain said.
Pond said housing is the dominant issue that has come out of his conversations with residents.
“So we’ve got some work to do on the housing front, but we also have some work to do on completing the work around the water treatment. We need to get the filtration, that’s come out loud and clear. And then cleaning up and rebuilding our downtown core,” Pond said.
Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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