By Steve Hubrecht
Earlier this week the Canal Flats mayoral election race was decided — and yes – it did come down to drawing a name from a box.
Following municipal election day on Saturday, October 15, both Canal Flats mayor candidates — Mark Doherty and Doug McCutcheon — were tied at 158 votes. The village did a recount and the tally was still tied.
On Monday, Oct. 24, Canal Flats corporate officer and chief election officer, Sylvie Hoobanoff, and Canal Flats chief administrative officer (CAO), Richard Wayken, along with McCutcheon and Doherty, were in court in Invermere for a judicial recount of the ballots. All parties agreed that having provincial court judge, Grant Sheard, recount the ballots was unnecessary, since it had already been done twice. So, as per Canal Flats election bylaw, Sheard then drew a name from a box.
The name Sheard selected was Doherty’s, making Doherty mayor-elect of Canal Flats.
“It’s the process. Local government is big on process, and this is the process Canal Flats has in place for local elections,” Hoobanoff told the Pioneer.
She explained “a lot of people in the community have told us they wanted a runoff election…There are pros and cons to each approach (drawing a name from a box or having a second runoff election). Drawing a name has the pro that Mr. Doherty is now the mayor elect and we can proceed with the inauguration meeting.”
The cons of holding a second runoff election include that such a runoff would take 50 days, including three separate voting opportunities, and would require the same work by village staff and come with the same cost to taxpayers as the first election, explained Hoobanoff.
“This way, council can get going right away,” she said. “It certainly is unusual. It is up to the new (Canal Flats) council if they wish to revisit this bylaw and potentially change it. At this point in time, I have no idea if they wish to do that.”
Doherty told the Pioneer “it feels good” to be mayor, but quickly added “there’s a lot of work to do. The biggest thing is to bring the community back together and to start working on things that benefit everybody.”
Of having the mayor race come down to drawing a name out of a box, Doherty said “it’s a process that doesn’t often happen.” Doherty thanked McCutcheon for running a good election race.
“It’s done. It doesn’t bother me that I didn’t win. That’s just the way it is. The gods that control elections know what they’re doing,” McCutcheon told the Pioneer. “I feel I did the best I could, and in the end, the village decided it wanted Mark as mayor, so that’s the way it should be.”
McCutcheon extended well wishes to Doherty, saying “I wish him the best. I hope things come together for him. I’m sure they will, he has a good head on his shoulders. I’m sure the village will be just fine.”