Erin Stewart, the youngest candidate in a five-way race,has been elected to city council in a byelection to replace Cory Young, who resigned in September to accept a job in Winnipeg.
Stewart will serve out the remaining 10 months of Young's four-year council term before voters to the polls to do it all over again Oct. 27, 2010 in a general municipal election.
The dismal voter turnout of 7.5 per cent was the worst in recent Thompson history, worse even than the 8.1 per cent turnout for a March 1978 byelection. In 1976, there were two council byelections in Thompson. The turnout for the one in January was 15.8 per cent, which dropped to 13.6 per cent for the October one.
There were a total of 673 Thompson residents who voted in advance polls and on election day yesterday, as well as one ballot that was rejected and three ballots that were spoiled and replaced during the byelection, says Lynn Taylor, the senior election officer and long-time city manager until her retirement last year. The total number of eligible voters listed at the start of the byelection period enumeration period was 8,906, with 47 additional voters added to the list at the polls.
Before yesterday's vote, the most recent byelection in Thompson had been more than 18 years ago on March 14, 1991, triggered by the death that January of Mayor Don MacLean in office.
Two councillors, Bill Comaskey and Ken Collin, resigned their seats to run for the open mayor's chair, with Comaskey winning and going on to serve for 15 years as mayor until 2006 when he didn't seek re-election. Ken Houston and Dr. Patrick Sheehan won the two open council seats, which saw a 20.1 per cent voter turnout, the best for the 15-year period for byelections between 1976 and 1991.
There are eight members on Thompson's city council - seven councillors and the mayor.
Stewart, who was raised in Thompson and holds a political science degree, came out on top of the other four candidates with a total of 218 votes.Runner up to Stewart was Luke Robinson, a mechanical underground worker at Vale Inco, with 157 votes and then in third spot, Margaret Allan, office manager for the Thompson Chamber of Commerce with 150 votes. Khaled Hassanien, a teacher at Juniper Elementary School, had a total of 92 votes and Peter Fancy, also a Juniper Elementary School teacher, came last with 56 votes.
Hassanien led the vote in the advance and travelling polls; Robinson held the lead in the Juniper voting station; Allan came first in the Riverside and Eastwood voting stations; and Stewart led the race in the Deerwood, Westwood and Burntwood voting stations. One-hundred-and-seven people turned out to vote in the advance and travelling polls, with 566 other votes cast in the byelection on election day.