INNISFAIL – Jean Barclay is the new mayor of Innisfail following her decisive and overwhelming victory over controversial opponent Glen Carritt.
Barclay’s victory on Oct. 18 was a landslide as she defeated Carritt by a margin of 2,025 votes to 626. The municipal vote was legally finalized on Oct. 22.
However, last week Carritt made a last stand with an attempt to seek a recount but it was denied by the town.
Erica Vickers, the returning officer for Innisfail, said she did speak to both the town’s legal team and the provincial municipal affairs office about Carritt’s recount request.
She said under the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) the candidate must show grounds - ones the returning officer considers reasonable - for alleging the record of the result of the count of votes at the voting station is inaccurate.
“That’s all you can ask for. He has to show that the count of the votes was inaccurate. The items that he alleged for that reason were not sufficient. He did not show accurate grounds,” said Vickers, adding Carritt can now seek a judicial recount.
“But he also has to show the court that there are grounds that the count was inaccurate. This doesn’t have anything to do with the validity of the machines but just that the count itself was inaccurate.”
Carritt was contacted by The Albertan and was asked why he sought a recount.
“People asked me and as their representative I asked. If everything is transparent then why is (it) denied,” said Carritt, who was also asked by The Albertan if he would seek a judicial recount. “(I) haven’t got that far.”
Vickers said a private Innisfailian also asked for a recount but it was denied because it’s not allowed under LAEA guidelines.
She said the only people who can ask for a recount are candidates or their official agents, or their scrutineers.
“A private citizen is not allowed to ask for a recount to the returning officer,” said Vickers, adding the private citizen can also now seek a judicial recount.
In the meantime, there was clear celebration last week for Barclay and her supporters, which began in earnest just moments after Vickers announced local election winners during the evening of Oct. 18.
“I feel awesome. I am so excited. I think there is a great team that has been elected. I can’t wait to get to work,” said Barclay following the vote count.
She added that a priority for her will be to do whatever she can to help the community heal due to the rigours of the pandemic, and a long, tough and increasingly testy campaign over Carritt.
“Yes, we have gone through a lot,” she said. “It’s not just up to seven council members to help the community heal. It’s up to every person to help the community heal. The voters have now decided, so let’s get back to work and move on with things and reach our full potential because we have so much potential in this town.
“And we have to portray the kind of image where investors want to invest and people want to move to.”
Barclay, who just finished her first term as a town councillor, will have a much different council to work with.
Of the three incumbent councillors running in the election, Gavin Bates and Don Harrison were both re-elected. Bates earned 1,325 votes, while Harrison picked up 1,228. Donnie Hill received 827 and was not re-elected.
Bates and Harrison will be joined by former three-term councillor Jason Heistad who collected 1,520 votes, Dale Dunham who earned 1,183, Cindy Messaros who had 923 and Janice Wing who received 1,369.