At least two Rimbey council candidates have asked for a recount after being defeated by a handful of votes on Monday.
Unofficial results put candidate Joe Anglin in fourth and final place on council with 449 votes, narrowly ahead of incumbent Steve Schrader’s 445 votes and sixth-place finisher Brian Restall’s 442 votes.
Although she did not name them, returning officer Melissa Beebe confirmed on Tuesday that two council candidates have asked for recounts. She expected to announce the results this afternoon.
Unless the recount puts Scrader in fourth place instead of Anglin, that leaves the town with an entirely new set of elected officials, including Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson and Councillors Gayle Rondeel, Paul Payson and Jack Webb.
Monday’s upset caps an election campaign that was divisive, led by Anglin detailing concerns about spending practices, former councillor David Karroll said on Tuesday.
Karroll resigned abruptly early in September, announcing he would not seek re-election after Anglin produced a report showing, among other things, that the mayor, council and staff had contributed almost $10,000 in taxpayers’ money to the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta over a period of almost five years. The money was subsequently paid back.
“The attitude on the ground was toxic in the community. I saw this groundswell of opposition and I would have been buried along with the rest, so that’s why I decided to step aside.”
Clearly, people felt it was time for a change, regardless of the good work their town council had performed in recent years, said Karroll.
“People were looking for any excuse, and the way it was bundled up and packaged . . . in a very negative manner created a tidal surge of negative response against the incumbents,” Karroll said.
“Who knows. Maybe they’re legitimate issues and need to be examined in a broader context.”
Karroll defended the expenses nonetheless, stating that attending functions and meetings was how Rimbey earned provincial and federal grants for a variety of major projects.
Rimbey’s departing mayor and council had chosen to handle economic development on their own rather than hire an economic development officer, believing that they could do a better job for less money, hence the additional expenses for which they have paid a political penalty, said Karroll.
The evidence is in the number of projects completed and the level of government grants that have been made available to get them done, said Karroll.
“We were way ahead of other small communities — way out there.”