Many newcomers to mayoral chairs in Central Alberta

Upsets and a large number of incumbent mayors not running again led to many changes at the top

The mayor’s chair will have a new occupant in many Central Alberta communities.

Innisfail, Lacombe, Blackfalds, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler and Penhold are among communities that will have a new mayor.

In a battle of former councillors in Lacombe, Grant Creasey defeated Peter Bouwsema by 1,964 votes to 1,417.

Creasey was a former councillor and a mayoral candidate in the last election.

He lost to Steve Christie, who did not run this time.

Lacombe’s council will change dramatically after three incumbents, Wayne Armishaw, Bill McQuesten and Wayne Rempel lost their seats. Reuben Konnik was the only incumbent to hold his seat on council following the voter house cleaning.

In Blackfalds, long-time Coun. Richard Poole stepped up to the mayor’s chair, defeating challenger Gary Smith. Poole had 863 votes and Smith 215.

Poole was first elected to Blackfalds council in 1995 and except for a three-year break from 1998 to 2001 has been there ever since.

“I’m so honoured that I have been chosen to be mayor. I know it’s going to be an interesting and challenging four years,” he said.

One of those challenges will be the Alberta government’s focus on regional collaboration between municipalities as part of an overhaul of the Municipal Government Act.

“I think that’s an exciting challenge and opportunities are going to really sprout from that.”

Former mayor Melodie Stol, who had held the job for the past 10 years, chose not to run again.

In Red Deer County, Mayor Jim Wood will be back for another term, defeating Debra Hanna 2,311 to 1,181.

Except for Division 3’s Don Church, who narrowly lost by four votes to Dana Depalme, 356 to 352, council will be the same.

Wood believes that will be an advantage.

“I think that allows us lots of continuity and knowledge to be able to continue on without a lot of slowdown.”

The first job for the new council will be to sit down and discuss what they heard on the campaign trail and how to work that into the county’s strategic plan.

Wood said he heard a lot about rural crime while campaigning.

“I’ve heard from many residents that they want us to do more locally,” he said.

In Innisfail, it was a battle of the former mayor Jim Romane and current mayor Brian Spiller.

Romane came out on top with 1,168 votes to Spiller’s 727.

It was another battle of current and former mayors in Ponoka.

Mayor Rick Bonnett held on to his seat with 1,352 votes against former mayor Larry Henkelman’s 613.

In Rocky Mountain House, Coun. Tammy Burke was facing off against former councillor and mayoral candidate Sheila Mizera.

Burke held off Mizera with 747 votes to her 697.

The mayor’s race was wide open after Mayor Fred Nash chose not to run again.

In Penhold, incumbent Mayor Dennis Cooper lost to Michael Yargeau, who was sitting as a councillor.

Cooper, a councillor himself for four terms, was hoping for a third term as mayor.

In Stettler, newcomer Sean Nolls was acclaimed as mayor after long-time mayor Dick Richards did not run again.

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