ELECTION NIGHT: Three newcomers join council as incumbents retain positions

by James O'Connor - October 15, 2018

Yellowknife city council will see three new faces as Robin Williams, Stacie Smith and Cynthia Mufandaedza joined the re-elected incumbents at the close of the polls, early Tuesday morning.

Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo
Robin Williams, centre, was is in a jovial mood with supporters at his Great Slave residence after retaining a strong lead among newcomer candidates, Monday night. From left are Patrick Jacobson, cousin, Jeremy Findlay, friend, Melanie Williams, wife, Robin with three-month old son Rhys, Geneva Irwin, sister, Sebastian Letourneau, friend and supporter, Simon Carrier, friend and Desiree Gautreau, friend.

Along with the three newcomers, the new council will be made up of Shauna Morgan, Julian Morse, Steve Payne, Niels Konge, Cynthia Mufandaedza, and Rommel Silverio.

Voters also supported extending the city council terms to four years from three years in a referendum on the ballot.

Newcomer winners included Robin Williams who had a strong third place finish with 2,516 votes. Williams, a first-time candidate, was in a jovial mood during a private celebration with family and supporters throughout the night at his Yellowknife Bay residence.

“I am really excited,” he said. “It is a very exciting process and as the results came in, I have been overwhelmed with the support from the people of Yellowknife.”
Williams, who is co-manager of Roy’s Audio Video Unlimited said residents are looking for a champion of downtown and business development.

“I have been a long-time downtown business person and I have made contact and good conversation with people,” he said. “People in Yellowknife would like to have representation that understands small business.”

Smith, the only female Indigenous candidate on the ballot was among some of the candidates watching results come in at Twist & Shout.

“It was surreal, definitely,” she said of the results. “I had a great sense that people were responsive to the fact that I am female and Indigenous. It says that the city has been in need for more culture and more diversity on council.”

Smith said it was clear that the city wanted to see women on council because all four female candidates were elected.

Smith, also a downtown business owner, said she is going to be  focused on improving relations with local Indigenous people. She wants to begin working with the Yellowknife Dene First Nations (YKDFN) on solidifying the boundary line between the city and Ndilo and start looking at ways to get funding for a “world class healing centre.”

“I definitely want to tackle issues with YKDFN and dealing with the boundary line of where Yellowknife ends and Ndilo begins,” she said. “There has always been the struggle with understanding of the barrier line and whether it should it be expanded or not.”

Smith also said the municipality must respond as a municipality to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with funding for healing programs and a healing centre.

“We need to get under (these) before anything else and get the ball rolling,” she said.

Winning candidates Vote Count Defeated candidates Vote Count
1. Shauna Morgan 3,081 9. Chris Gillander 1,763
2. Julian Morse 2,586 10. Edwin Castillo 1,759
3. Robin Williams 2,516 11. Dane Mason 1,543
4. Steve Payne 2,403 12. Terry Testart 1,172
5. Stacie Smith 2255 13. William Gomes 1,082
6. Niels Konge 2,207 14. John Dalton 880
7. Cynthia Mufandaedza 1,941 15. Josh Campbell

 

865
8. Rommel Silverio 1,825 16. Mark Bogan 496

Incumbent Shauna Morgan, who is going into her second term, took the  most votes of all candidates. She spent the evening with her campaign volunteers with a dinner out and a gathering at her home.

“It was a good reaffirmation of the incumbent councillors that we are on the right track and so I am looking forward to continuing that momentum,” she said.

Morgan said it is important the new council focus on completing the municipal budget for 2019 and complete orientation for councillors in the immediate term.  

“I would like to see us get our strategic priorities set as soon as possible because it took us a while during the last council,” she said. “The sooner we can do that, the sooner we can ensure the work plans of everyone in the city  are really focused around priorities and that we are being as effective as we can with time and resources.” 

Ballot question

Voters were also given a ballot question on if they would like to see council terms extend to four years. The Yes vote had a healthy lead throughout the night with 3,096 in favour versus 2,013 against, by 12:30 a.m.

Polls opened in all locations across the city at 10 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m.

Votes were counted for the 16 council candidates following the declaration of Rebecca Alty as the city’s new mayor.

Numbers for councillors started coming in after 9:15 p.m. and wrapped up shortly after 12:30 a.m. with incumbents Shauna Morgan (3018), Julian Morse (2586) and Steve Payne (2403) retaining healthy leads throughout the night.