Kitimat’s 2018 municipal elections resulted in some surprises – with only three of the previous councillors and the mayor retaining their seats in council.
Phil Germuth was confirmed mayor for another four years after receiving 1,958 votes, 81 per cent of the votes cast, with contender Dave Johston receiving 429 votes.
The upset, however, came in the election of the councillors, with incumbent councillors Mary Murphy and Larry Walker failing to win over the voters.
Incumbent councillors Mario Feldhoff, Edwin Empinado and Rob Goffinet held onto their seats, receiving 1,304, 1,239 and 1,230 votes respectively.
Three new councillors, Mark Zielinksi, Terry Marleau and Lani Gibson were elected, with Zielinski receiving nearly 70 per cent of the votes, 1,617 votes, with Marleau and Gibson receiving 1, 242 and 1,174 votes respectively.
Jonathan Borgens came in hot on Gibson’s heels with 1,092 votes, not enough to secure a seat on council. Murphy received 996 votres, Vanessa Lopez 949, Larry Walker 495 and Peter King 392.
Reflecting on his victory, Phil Germuth said while the first four years as mayor were a lot of work, he is looking forward to the next four years.
“I’m really looking forward now to the challenge of a major project in the community, working with all the groups in the community and of course LNG Canada and seeing that things go as smooth as possible,” said Germuth.
“We realize there will be some housing issues but we’re going to work on those together. I’m really looking forward to all the hard work over the next four years. I’m up for the challenge.”
Dave Johnston thanked his supporters and campaign volunteers.
“I would like to sincerely thank all of those who saw my vision and supported and volunteered their time to my campaign,” said Johnston. “I’d like to congratulate Phil Germuth on his victory and expect he will lead Kitimat with integrity and respect for all constituents.”
Johnston said while he hadn’t won the race for mayor, he nevertheless considered his campaign a personal victory.
“If anything came of this, I’d like to think it was a success because I feel I’ve brought ideas into the mainstream conversation, all of which I will continue to advocate for,” said Johnston.
Saturday, October 20, saw a well-oiled voting operation in Kitimat run by Chief Election Officer and District of Kitimat deputy chief administrative officer, Debbie Godfrey, and her deputy, deputy director of corporate administration Ethan Anderson.
This election saw an increase of just over 400 voters over the 2014 elections – from 2,418 in 2014 to 2,820 this year.
While the number of voters increased, the percentage of eligible voters decreased from 60 per cent in 2014 to 41.9 per cent in 2018.
In 2014 the District recorded 387 new voter registrations, in stark contrast to only 80 new voter registrations this year.
Godfrey explained the difference in the percentages may have been as a result of the District using a different voter list this year.
“It is important to note that in 2018 the District of Kitimat used the Province of B.C. voters’ list, rather than a previously maintained voters’ list produced by the District of Kitimat,” said Godfrey.
She said the difference in the number of voters between the District’s list in 2014 and the province’s 2018 list could be as a result of some voters being more likely to vote in federal and provincial elections than in municipal elections.
“I also believe that younger voters, once meeting the minimum age requirement, go online to add their name to the voter list, and never think of adding their name to the municipal voters list,” she added.
“Adopting the provincial list provides more up-to-date information to the local government election process.”
With voting closing at 8 p.m., candidates, candidate representatives, supporters and family members crowded into the District of Kitimat council chambers to hear the results which were expected to be announced as soon as 10 p.m.
Just after 10.15 p.m. District of Kitimat chief administrative officer Warren Waycheshen entered the chambers and posted provisional results for the mayoral race.
He informed everyone in the venue that the results for candidates were expected to be announced soon afterwards.
However, it was only after midnight that a very apologetic Waycheshen was finally able to post the provisional results for the councillor race.
Incumbent councillor Rob Goffinet said this was the first time results had taken so long to be announced.
Chief Election Officer Debbie Godfrey explained the delay in the counting of the ballots.
“The District of Kitimat realized a voter turnout of 37.87 per cent, totalling 2,418 ballots that included 13 names. The count was conducted methodically and counters had to ensure accuracy in their counts,” said Godfrey.
She said two polling locations with seven counting teams had been established.
Riverlodge had 1,266 ballots to count with four counting teams and Mount Elizabeth had 1,152 votes to count with three counting teams.