Mary Sjostrom, left, won by 13 votes in CRD Area A, with Barb Bachmeier taking the lead by 17 votes in Area B. Contributed photos

Local CRD candidates win by small margins; recounts not guaranteed

Chief election officer says recounts will only happen if number of rejected ballots were significant

The local Cariboo Regional District races were tight, with Area A’s (Red Bluff-Quesnel South) Mary Sjostrom taking the lead in the polls over Cory Delves by just 13 votes (with 50.8 per cent of the vote) and Area B’s (Quesnel West-Bouchie Lake) Barb Bachmeier winning over Robert Shkuratoff, who had the next highest number of votes between the three Area B candidates, by 17 votes (with 37.7 per cent of the vote).

The CRD’s chief election officer Alice Johnston says the small margins don’t necessarily mean there will be a recount, however.

“Tomorrow [Oct. 23] at 2 p.m. when we declare the official results, I open up all the ballot account forms and if there weren’t many rejected ballots and everything balances, then I probably won’t conduct an informal recount,” she explains.

Johnston says unless there is a high number of rejected ballots, there’s no reason to back through them. “It’s pretty self explanatory on which ones are rejected and which ones are counted. We don’t reject them just because people put a tick instead of an X, or something like that. Sometime people purposely don’t mark their ballot, or it’s marked in such a way that you can’t decide what was the intent of the voter. But they don’t happen very often.”

Johnston says that once the official results are declared, if a candidate or elector wishes, they can request a judicial recount through the provincial court.

CRD counts were announced late Saturday night (Oct. 20), with candidates and voters waiting until almost midnight to hear the preliminary results.

Area A winner Sjostrom says she waited up at home to hear.

“I was pretty exhausted yesterday! It was a long wait.”

Sjostrom says she’s feeling comfortable with the prospect of her upcoming duties, having sat on the CRD board when she was mayor of Quesnel, as well as last term, as an alternate to Area A director Ted Armstrong.

“I need to familiarize myself with the Local Government Act, which the regional district operates under. … There’s a fair bit of reading and upgrading to do, and the bylaws. The jurisdictions and responsibilities are considerably different [than the municipal ones],” she explains.

Sjostrom says she heard many issues and concerns from locals during her door-knocking campaign in Area A, so would like to follow up on those as soon as possible.

“I would like to at least find out where we move next. There were some legitimate concerns that we can get working on. But I need to get sworn in first, and find out exactly what the responsibilities are, and go from there.”

Area B winner Barb Bachmeier says she was with friends and other candidates at Rocky’s in Bouchie Lake, having pizza until about 10 p.m., when the store closed.

“Then we all went home, and I didn’t hear about [winning] until Margo Wagner from the CRD got hold of me,” she says.

Bachmeier says she’s feeling excited and nervous after winning the seat.

“It’s back to the usual for a little while, until November when we get sworn in and there will be an orientation. And I guess there’s a steep learning curve after that.

“It’s going to be an adventure. Hopefully everyone is happy with the work I do,” she comments.

Sjostrom and Bachmeier will join 10 other regional directors on the board, five others who were just elected, and seven who were acclaimed.

The North Cariboo Airport Service Referendum passed on Saturday night, with 72 per cent of those who voted approving the new tax, which will contributed to the operating costs of Quesnel’s regional airport. A total of 1,446 people voted either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the North Cariboo’s referendum. This number does not include rejected ballots.

Official CRD election results will be announced Oct. 23.

READ MORE: Several new directors elected on CRD board



editor@quesnelobserver.com

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