Colleen Smook made history Oct. 24 after 44.15 per cent of the people who voted selected her to become the first woman to take on the role of mayor of Thompson.
However, Smook told the Thompson Citizen minutes after the results were finalized that she didn’t even grasp these historical implications until her friends and family congratulated her. Instead, her thoughts immediately went to all the people who helped her achieve this goal.
“I’m very excited, overwhelmed, humbled. I feel so fortunate that all the people that worked on my campaign worked very hard,” she said. “When I entered I figured I could win, and I likely would win, but I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work with a lot of people.”
While the night started off as a tight race, Smook eventually overtook rival Ron Matechuk, who ended up getting second place with 34.62 per cent of the vote. Fellow candidates Penny Byer and Ryan Brady trailed behind with 18.74 per cent and 2.49 per cent of the vote, respectively.
Smook is the eighth person to be elected mayor in Thompson's history as a municipality, following in the footsteps of predecessors Jack Knight, Brain Campbell, Tom Farrell, Don MacLean, Bill Comaskey, Tim Johnston and, most recently, Dennis Fenske.
Moving forward, Smook said her first order of business as mayor is to consult with each new member of council separately so that they can get on the same page.
“We’ll have a chat to see what their strengths are and where they want to be,” she said. “We’re not always going to agree all the time, but my hope is that we are going to work together.”
Smook is fairly new to the world of municipal politics, having only served on Thompson city council for the last four years. However, she did take over the role of deputy mayor from Coun. Kathy Valentino back in October 2017, which prepared her for some of the responsibilities that she will be facing in the big chair.
While the mayor elect admits that the next four years will be difficult, with public safety concerns and job cuts at Vale looming over Thompson, she said that the city will be able to persevere as long as its residents decide to band together as northerners.
“I’ve been saying for the last couple years: there’s great things to come,” she said. “Let’s get past being a mining town. Let’s start broadening our tax base in other ways. We’ve got people just sitting out there waiting to come forward. We’ve got 55,000 people in our surrounding communities. Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation is already a part of Thompson and we just need to welcome [everyone].”
Smook has been living in Thompson for 47 years and currently manages McCreedy Campground just north of the Burntwood River. However, she assured the Thompson Citizen on Wednesday night that her role as mayor will come first.
For more election coverage from the Thompson Citizen, please visit www.thompsoncitizen.net/municipal-election-2018.