Incumbent mayors hold seats in small-city Sask. elections

·3 min read

Voters in several south Saskatchewan cities chose the status quo in Monday’s municipal votes, re-electing incumbent mayoral candidates in Moose Jaw, Weyburn and Estevan.

Yorkton was the outlier with two new candidates vying for the mayor’s chair, after former mayor Bob Maloney announced this summer he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Swift Current had to take a Nov. 9 snow day on its vote, thanks to a weekend blizzard.

In Moose Jaw Fraser Tolmie earned another four-year term to keep pushing his vision for the city, comprised mainly of continuing its cast-iron water main replacement program and trying to make the city an agricultural technology hub.

Tolmie bested challengers John Kot and Nancy Nash by 873 votes and 2,902 votes, respectively. He captured 55.06 per cent of the vote, while Kot had 39.99 per cent and Nash had 4.96 per cent.

He told the Leader-Post he’s excited to get back to work, but he’s also “relieved” the election is over.

“People are electioned out,” he said, referencing the Oct. 26 provincial vote and the tightly-contested U.S. election last week.

Tolmie said his leadership will bring change to the city, but it will gradually take time.

That’s the case for what administrators want to do with an aerial drone-training program for new, younger farmers. Tolmie said the city has worked with aerospace company CAE Canada — a plane supplier to 15 Wing Moose Jaw — and Saskatchewan Polytechnic to craft the program.

The mayor-elect thinks there will be fewer farmers in the future, and they’ll “require technology to help them … We've seen that with the big combines that are GPS-operated. So we need to get ahead of that.”

He acknowledged immigration is important to Moose Jaw’s growth too, referencing the city’s registration in the federal Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. It’s a program designed to get what Ottawa calls “skilled foreign workers” into smaller communities while giving them “a path to permanent residence.”

“There's been a shortage of people willing to work and so that is why we pursued (it),” Tolmie said. Moose Jaw’s website for the program says it will begin accepting applications in late 2020 or early 2021.

Further south in Weyburn, voters gave Marcel Roy a second term in office. He beat challengers Nick Coroluick by 390 votes and Bruce Croft by 1,621 votes.

Estevan’s incumbent mayor Roy Ludwig earned his third-straight term in that city’s public office. He had 1,632 votes to challenger Ray Walton’s 682. Ludwig previously served as a city councillor there from 1994 to 2012.

Longtime photography business owner Mitch Hippsley is to serve as Yorkton’s new mayor. His 2,000 votes were enough to beat challenger Aaron Kienle’s 1,914.

He believes his “responsible spending” campaign pitch, especially during and after the unknown days of the COVID-19 pandemic, reflected voters’ concerns.

“It's the unknown of what happens next; where are we going to be a year from now?” he said.

That means, “if we choose to, as a council of seven, we can actually hold our budget at zero per cent for 2021 without cutting any services” while using some of the city’s reserve monies. “It's realistic,” Hippsley said.

Longer term, he said he does “believe in growth and progress.”

“Let's see where we're at a year from now, then we can start making decisions again.”

After a weekend blizzard pummelled Saskatchewan’s southwest corner, Swift Current had to postpone its election to Thursday. Councillor Al Bridal will challenge incumbent Dennis Perrault for the mayor’s post.

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post