All four female mayoral candidates in this year’s Northwest Territories municipal elections were voted in or acclaimed to lead their communities.
In Fort Smith, incumbent Mayor Lynn Napier-Buckley has been re-elected, while in Inuvik, Natasha Kulikowski won by nearly 400 votes.
Meanwhile, in Yellowknife, Adrian Bell conceded and called to congratulate Rebecca Alty.
In Hay River, Kandis Jameson was acclaimed as mayor.
Official results in Inuvik show Kulikowski had a grand total of 563 votes, while Vince Sharpe had just 176.
Kulikowski described her initial reaction as “just pure joy.”
“I’m super stoked. So excited, and really happy with with the voter turnout we had here in town,” said Kulikowski.
“And I’m really happy for the territory with all of the women who were elected and acclaimed.
“This has been my goal for the past few years and I’ve been slowly working my way towards this, so to have achieved this is amazing.”
Inuvik councillors Steven Baryluk, Dez Loreen, Paul MacDonald, Gary McBride, Alana Mero, Ray Solotki, Kurt Wainman, and Clarence Wood were all acclaimed. Kulikowski says one of her first steps will be getting to know them.
“Without having the election process for the councillors it’s almost like we missed a step in getting to know each other and where everybody sits,” she said.
‘We worked really hard’
In Fort Smith, Napier-Buckley led the race with 437 votes. Brad Brake, who served as mayor from 2012 to 2015, had 253 votes, while Don Matthews trailed with 61.
“I’m excited. I’m so excited,” said Napier-Buckley shortly after the results were announced. “It was a really long three years and we worked really hard for Fort Smith, and I’m just so grateful that we can continue the work that we’re doing.”
Reflecting on her mayoral counterparts in Inuvik and Yellowknife, she said, “I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s a good start that we absolutely need. We need more women running, and not only for municipal elections, but for territorial and federal elections as well.”
Fort Smith’s new town councillors include Louise Beaulieu, Kevin Campbell, Mike Couvrette, Jessica Cox, Bob McArthur, Ann Pischinger, Kevin Smith, and Chris Westwell.
Alty echoed Napier-Buckley, saying, “That’s incredible. I’m still trying to absorb Yellowknife, I didn’t even know that. I hope it’s an inspiration to young women.”
In Fort Simpson, a close race saw Sean Whelly elected mayor over Pat Rowe. Whelly had 239 votes, while Rowe had 203.
“I’m feeling pretty good. I think that it was a close election and I think that on the council side, we have a good slate of councillors,” reflected Whelly. “I think the community wanted to see a mix of different ideas and people and we got that. The main thing is that we all have to work together.
“Even to my opponent, I have to take a moment to say that he ran a good, clean campaign and I think it was good for the community to have a choice. Whelly, who was elected mayor in the 2009 and 2012 elections, says that while it is “an honour to be elected again” it’s also time to get start getting things done.
“You can enjoy the win, I suppose, but it’s the community that’s making these choices and you are the vehicle that is going to be used to make sure things get done.”
Fort Simpson’s elected councillors are: Celine Antoine, Troy Bellefontaine, Kirby Groat, Muaz Hassan, Marie Lafferty, Liza McPherson, Clayton Moreau, and Michael Rowe.
In Norman Wells, Frank Pope has been elected mayor. Councillors include: Pascal Audet, Jean-Paul Bernard, James (Jim) Boyle, Alexis Peachey, Trevor Smith, and David Wever.
And in Hay River, Steve Anderson, Robert Bouchard, (Mary) Emily Chambers, Linda Duford, Keith Dohey, (James), and Brian Willows were elected, there will be a recount tomorrow for the final spot.
Jeffery Groenewegen currently has 454 votes, Sandra Lester has 451, and Joseph Melanson has 452.