Kevin Wedick (left) shakes hands with Morinville Town Councillor Elect Sheldon Fingler moments after election results were revealed Thursday night. The two candidates were 32 votes apart. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Sheldon Fingler will be sworn in as councillor Monday night by Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec after winning the majority of votes in Thursday’s municipal by-election. Fingler received 263 votes, beating his closest rival, Kevin Wedick, by 32 votes.
Fingler is the owner of Infinite Event Services and is perhaps best known in the community for his involvement with the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce. The candidate ran a strong campaign through the election, using print and online advertising, signs, billboards and social media to reach voters.
Wedick, a retired RCMP officer and current explosions and fire investigator, was later out of the gate than his opponents in mounting his campaign. Advertising, signs and door knocking came late in the campaign cycle; however, the candidate did one thing others appear not to have – visiting and speaking with the seniors at Aspen House and Heritage Place. The candidate placed a close second and said to expect his name on the ballot next time around.
Following Fingler and Wedick in votes were Candidates Jim O’Brien with 114 votes, former councillor Joseph Trapani with 60 votes, Jackie Luker-Chevalier with 56 votes, and Bonnie Moerike with 10 votes.
A total of 734 votes were cast between the advance poll held Sept. 18 and Thursday’s by-election. Voter turnout was 13.68 per cent of the 5,362 eligible voters in Morinville. That eligible voter number is derived from Morinville’s own 2011 census.
Candidates Wedick, O’Brien and Trapani expressed their congratulations to Fingler Thursday night. Candidate Luker-Chevalier left before Morinville News was able to speak to her, and Candidate Moerike did not attend Thursday night’s vote count.
O’Brien, who took third, expressed his congratulations to the two front runners and said he found the election campaign an interesting learning experience. “It was good fun,” he said. “I really did enjoy it. I met a lot of people in the process of walking around town.” O’Brien said he is considering running again in the next municipal election.
Former Councillor Joseph Trapani, who placed fourth, said a good man won. “I’m proud he was running because he is a believer in Morinville and it shows,” Trapani said. “I think he’ll make a good councillor. He is surely not a yes man. He’ll basically put his two cents where it needs to be, and hopefully they will follow some of his great ideas”
Wedick said he was impressed with the fact six residents ran for the seat. “We haven’t seen that. It doesn’t happen,” he said, adding he plans to support Fingler 100 per cent. “We had some great candidates that ran. It was close and there’s always the next election. This has been an educational curve for me, and I’ll be running in the next election, definitely. I’d love to work alongside of Sheldon and some of the other councillors that are here, and work towards building Morinville.”
Surprised at close race
Fingler said he was surprised at the closeness between himself and his opponent because of the number of candidates running in the by-election. “For a vote to be down to two people with such a [small] difference was surprising and impressive,” he said, adding he was grateful for the win.
Councillor Elect Fingler will be sworn in Monday night at the beginning of Council’s meeting. The meeting was moved up a day as Morinville councillors will be leaving for the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference the following morning. The new councillor will be part of that trip.
Fingler replaces former Morinville Town Councillor Ben Van de Walle who stepped down in mid-July after being diagnosed with Lukemia.