Swift Current voters have elected Pat Friesen and Ron Toles as the two new faces joining four incumbent members on Swift Current City Council for the next four years.
Friesen and Toles join veteran council members Ryan Plewis, Gord Budd, George Bowditch and Denis Perrault as the six councillors serving along with Mayor Jerrod Schafer at the helm of Swift Current City Council.
Friesen was the top vote getter during the election, receiving 2,235 votes. Plewis, the incumbent Deputy Mayor, was second in the popular vote with 1,974 votes. Third overall was four term councillor Budd who received 1,779 votes. Fourth in vote getting was Perrault at 1,513. Rounding out the top six was Toles who was selected on 1,471 ballots.
Dan Martens was seeking a second term on council but finished 76 votes shy of being re-elected by earning 1,395 votes.
Veteran council member Tim Bugera was defeated after collecting just 916 votes.
Final election results are as follows:
Elected -Pat Friesen, 2,235
Elected –Ryan Plewis, 1,974
Elected –Gord Budd, 1,779
Elected –George Bowditch, 1,599
Elected –Denis Perrault, 1,513
Elected –Ron Toles, 1,471
Dan Martens, 1,395
Keleah Ostrander, 1,271
Jayson Sletten, 1,266
Tim Bugera, 916
Joe Collinson, 718
Incumbent Councillor Ryan Plewis admitted he was somewhat surprised by the results.
“It was a bittersweet day for me to lose a couple of former councilors. We developed some close working relationships and some very close personal relationships with one another so it’s difficult to close that chapter, but we don’t have a bunch of time and we don’t have the luxury to mourn about those things. We just move forward with the new team.
“I want to take the time to congratulate the other 10 people who ran ... and to thank them for putting their names forward. Not only that, but putting their names forward and running a good, hard working, clean, honest and straightforward campaign. We’ve been very fortunate in the last few years in our past council to have such a close group. Lots of councils spend so much of their time infighting and not getting things done, and thankfully that can’t be said about our city."
Incumbent George Bowditch received 1,599 votes, placing him fourth in the slate of candidates.
“It’s been a good campaign but it’s time to get back to work. I’m very relieved, but I’m also very, very honoured that the citizens of Swift Current have chosen me to help guide them for the next four years.
“I’ve got to congratulate all the people that ran this year. It takes a lot of courage to do this and there was a very very good slate of candidates.
“I think our swearing in ceremony is next Monday and the plan right away is to get back to work on such things as our housing situation. We want to make sure that we have affordable housing for everybody. We want to work with the city and keep moving forward on such things as making sure that our regional partnerships continue to grow and improve."
Newcomer Ron Toles said he had a feeling the race would be a close one for him.
"I knew it would be really close. I said two weeks ago it’s going to be a few votes, and that’s what it was."
His priorities remain the same as they were in his campaign.
"I’ve said from the very beginning, I’m not going to change what I talked about in the entire campaign, and that’s to work on things like transparency and sustainability and honesty and keeping things on an even keel.
"One of my biggest wishes has always been to fight for a library downtown. I don’t mind the integrated facility, I don’t mind the idea of it going up, but I don’t want to see the whole library moved out there. It’s too important to the people in that area." He added, "That may be what set me aside from someone else."
Council newcomer Friesen was surprised to capture the distinction of receiving the most votes among the council candidates.
"I'm extremely pleased with the result," Friesen said. "I would like to thank the folks in Swift Current for the confidence that they placed in me to be their City Councillor for the next four years."
While this was her first foray into municipal politics, she is well known both in the community for work for a variety of groups and across the province for her work with the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.
"I think part of it is I know a lot of people. I've worked with a lot of people in the City in various groups and organizations, and my work at the Credit Union allowed me to get to know a lot of folks through the sponsorships and the advertising and all the things I did there. So I think that helped that a lot of people do know me."
Friesen served as the president of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and is currently serving on the Canadian Chamber Board of Directors, two experienced that have helped her understands how politics works.
She will be relying on these past experiences as she quickly gets to work on council.
"I can definitely see that the first little while I will be spending a lot of time just understanding what's happening, understanding the financial situation, understanding how council meetings work. There will be a lot for me to learn, but I'm really looking forward to it, and I look forward to representing those citizens as best I can in the next four years."
She feels there is a good mix of veteran and new faces on council.
"I would like to congratulate all of the successful candidates. I think they'll represent the citizens well. And I'd also like to congratulate those who let their name stand. It's a good experience for anyone. I'd also like to congratulate Mayor Schafer on his acclamation."
knows get to work quickly.
While Friesen is a newcomer to council, she is not a newcomer to the City Council building, as it was her former Credit Union office location.
"I worked in that building when it was the Credit Union for a number of years," she laughed. "On the inside it doesn't look anything like it did when I was there. The outside looks much the same. But definitely, yeah, it'll be a little bit of a homecoming for me."
Voter turnout was down considerably from the turn out at the municipal polls in 2009. During the past election there were 983 votes cast at the Lt. Col. Clifton Recreation Centre, while this year only 521 turned out at that poll. Advance polling was also down sharply, with 399 advance votes this year as compared to 601 during the last election. The turnout at the Swift Current Museum poll dropped from 1,129 to 698. Fairview also dropped from 1173 in 2009 to just 745 this year. The Credit Union polling station had the greatest turnout with 810 votes, down from 1,344 in 2009.