October 26 proved to be an interesting night at the polls in Niverville. With seven candidates running for four councillor positions, it was anyone’s game. In the end, voters showed that they were ready for some change.
Niverville’s newest members of council are newcomers Meghan Beasant and Bill Fast, joined by incumbents Nathan Dueck and Chris Wiebe. Mayor Myron Dyck was declared the winner by acclamation last month.
According to the final results, Nathan Dueck took an impressive lead to finish in first place with 742 votes. Next in line with smaller margins between them are Bill Fast with 578 votes, Chris Wiebe with 554 votes, and Meghan Beasant with 547 votes.
The candidates not returning to council are John Funk with 447 votes and Kevin Stott with 354 votes. At last count, newcomer Jason Alderson had received 297 votes.
Voter turnout was low, coming in at just 29 percent. There are 3,445 eligible voters in the community. This is comparable to the neighbouring communities of St. Adolphe and Ste. Agathe, which saw 24 percent and 31 percent voter turnout respectively.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to represent the town and the citizens,” Chris Wiebe says. “It’s an honor. It really is. I have mixed emotions. We had a really good team, and the team has changed, so now it’s my responsibility as the senior official in there… to be a team builder. People want change and that’s what happened.”
Joining Wiebe as returning incumbent, Nathan Dueck says he’s honoured that the results were so strongly in his favour.
“Hard work pays off,” Dueck says. “I knocked on 1,500 doors and there were a lot of people in my campaign that helped out. I do appreciate them. About 80 percent of people that voted put me down as one of the candidates they chose, so I’m feeling honoured and privileged for the fact that I had such a high approval rating in the community. It just gives me the motivation to go out and meet the other 20 percent that didn’t vote for me and get to know them a little bit better too.”
While he’s not new to Niverville politics, it’s the first time Councillor Bill Fast will be serving his community in this way since the population explosion of more recent years. He was first elected to Niverville’s council in the early 1980s when Gil Wiebe served as mayor. He was the youngest councillor at the time.
Fast says that his engine is revving and he’s ready to hit the ground running.
“It feels very good,” says Fast. “I believe that I can make a difference in this community. I worked hard [for this win] and I’m anxious to get rolling. I’ve talked to a lot of people and made lots of notes and now that I’m in I can address them with the rest of council.”
Fast didn’t rely on door-to-door campaigning. Instead, his strategy was to reach out to people wherever he met up with them, like coffee shops, hockey arenas, and other public places. It’s in these places that he anticipates opportunities to continue rubbing shoulders with his constituents going forward.
Rounding off the councillor quartet is newcomer Meghan Beasant. Beasant is the first female councillor to be elected since Angela Janz served from 2010 to 2014. She’s also the youngest current member of council.
“It feels amazing,” Beasant says. “I’m very excited and very honoured that so many people liked what I had to say and felt that I could represent them.”
As a busy mom and business owner, Beasant admits that she didn’t have the time to get to as many households as she’d hoped to before the election. Still, she was able to meet a good cross-section of Niverville residents in all parts of town. And she believes the many connections she’s made prior to the campaign helped her to win as well.
“I think [my success] had a lot to do with reaching the younger demographic,” she adds. “You can’t deny that a lot of people saw me and felt that I could be a good representative of people in this town.”
Mayor Dyck says that no time will be wasted in getting the newly elected council prepped and ready for council duties. An all-day orientation is planned for Friday, October 28.
“I want to thank each candidate for being willing to serve their community,” Dyck says. “I appreciate very much the sacrifice and the effort they all made. I also wish to congratulate those that are the council going into the next four years.”
Dyck acknowledges the hard-working town staff who were instrumental in delivering the smoothly run election.
“Lastly, to all those that exercised their right to come out and vote, I say thank you to you as well.”
The new council will hit the ground running with their first public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 1, at 9:00 a.m. On December 2–3, the team will be immersed in full days of budget planning for the coming year.
Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen