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Municipal election: Valley voters opt for change

Sarah Rennie

Electors across the Valley propelled a wave of change that washed over many of the municipalities holding elections this past weekend. The race for mayor in eight municipalities resulted in the election of a new leader in all but one, with several tight contests coming down to the wire.

In Saint-Anicet, incumbent mayor Gino Moretti won a second term with 51.51 per cent of the vote, which amounted to a mere 12 votes over opponent André Picard. This was the second time this pair has campaigned against one another, with Moretti having won in 2017 by only 40 votes.

A three-way race for mayor in Franklin saw the Équipe Métras win six of seven seats. The team, led by former councillor Yves Métras, ran an entire slate of candidates on a platform of responsible management against incumbent mayor Douglas Brooks, who finished third behind Métras (56.77 per cent) and Jacques Roy (24.87 per cent) with only 18.36 per cent of the vote. Independent candidate Simon Brennan, who is otherwise known locally as Mr. Barnwood, will round out the council in Franklin.

Another extremely close race took place in Havelock, where incumbent mayor Denis Henderson was defeated by Stéphane Gingras, who received 51.33 per cent of the vote. The difference between Gingras, a geographer and environmentalist who works with the Saint-Chrysostome-based conservation organization Ambioterra, and Henderson came down to 12 votes.

In Saint-Chrysostome, former councillor Steve Laberge will take over as head of the municipal council after topping incumbent mayor Gilles Dagenais. Laberge received 66.58 per cent support amongst eligible voters.

New mayors elected to vacant positions

New leaders were also elected in four municipalities following mayoralty campaigns that took place with no incumbent mayors.

After a seven-week campaign, Christine McAleer will take over at the helm of the municipality of Ormstown following the retirement of former mayor Jacques Lapierre. McAleer, who ran on a promise of change and a new vision for the municipality, defeated Philippe Besombes with 53.09 per cent of the popular vote.

Mark Wallace was upgraded from his former position as municipal councillor to mayor in Hinchinbrooke, with a decisive victory over Alfred Mackay and Edgar Malboeuf. Wallace garnered 73.78 per cent of the vote to succeed long-time mayor Carolyn Cameron.

In Saint-Stanislas-de-Kostka, former mayor Jean-Pierre Gaboury’s attempt to return to office was stopped by councillor Jean-François Gendron, who handily won with 75.49 per cent of the vote.

Finally, Lucien Bouchard will take over as mayor of Hemmingford County following the untimely passing of Paul Viau this past spring. Bouchard won the election against resident Vladimiro Massignani with 84.72 per cent of the vote.

The regional average for voter turnout in the municipalities holding elections for the position of mayor was around 46 per cent. The lowest turnout was recorded in Hinchinbrooke, where only 28.7 percent of eligible voters took part in the election, followed by Ormstown, with a participation rate of 35 per cent. The highest voter turnout was recorded in Havelock at 67.7 per cent, as well as in Franklin, where 51.8 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.

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