By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Incumbent Mayor Lloyd Bertschi defeated one term Councillor Joseph Trapani in the race for the mayor’s chair Monday. Bertschi received 964 votes compared to Trapani’s 823.
After mayor and council were acclaimed in 2007, Trapani had decided in the eleventh hour on nomination Day to take a run at the mayor’s seat rather than seek another term on council so as to force an election. But the defeat leaves the one-term councillor now on the outside of council chambers, at least until the next election. Trapani said Monday night after the results were announced that he would likely take another stab at mayor in 2013.
Known for his straight-from-the-heart approach, Trapani was a popular choice with many Morinville residents, but failed to resonate with enough voters to secure the mayor’s seat for the next three years.
For Bertschi, Monday night’s victory was his first victory in the past two years. Bertschi was defeated in his re-election bid as Alberta Urban Municipality Association (AUMA) president last year by only seven votes.
Bertschi said he was happy with the result of Monday night’s vote tally. “It’s great to get back in again,” Bertschi said, noting he was somewhat surprised by the closeness of the contest. “What I’ve been hearing at the doors and from people around town was that I was going to be a shoe in and not to worry. I lost that election last fall by seven votes for the president of the association and the complacency was scaring me because I was starting to hear some of the same things I was hearing then. So I’m glad to see the vote got out.”
The mayor said his first priority will be meeting with the new councillors prior to Friday’s swearing in ceremony to find out what committees they are interested in serving on.
Trapani said he was obviously disappointed by the results. “People wanted a change but when I went door to door a lot of people were supporting me,” Trapani said, adding that he saw many people Monday that were coming to support him. “We only had so many people that came to vote, almost 1,800 or just a little over – more than we had in previous years. You know, that’s the way life goes sometimes. I wish to have been mayor, but I’m not and Morinville now has to live for another three years with the same mayor. Hopefully things will change.”
Now looking at life outside of council chambers, Trapani said he plans to remain a Morinville resident and to continue to be active in the community. One area Trapani would like to remain active in is his support of the Morinville Public Library. During his time on council, Trapani was the council representative to the library board. “I think the library needs to expand and move forward,” he said. “Hopefully this new council will do that.”
Although Trapani came out of the gate swinging at his opponent on Nomination Day, challenging Bertschi on his record over the past nine years and accusing the incumbent of only seeking re-election to further his aspirations of provincial or federal politics, the challenger toned down his attack in the weeks that followed, minimizing the assault to merely taking shots at the incumbent by frequently making reference to deals written on napkins.
The bad blood seemed to carry over into the basement of the Morinville Parish Hall Monday night when Trapani sought to congratulate Bertschi on his victory. Although the two briefly shook hands, it was clear that there was ill will between the two men.
When asked for comment about his opponent, Bertschi had little to say other than he was disappointed at some of the things Trapani, whom he’d regarded as a friend, had said during the campaign. Trapani said he felt rebuffed when offering Bertschi his congratulations, stating the mayor elect criticized him for comments made during the election and quickly walked away.
But both candidates were criticized for faux pas made during the Oct. 13 All-Candidates Forum held at Smith Music.
Trapani’s faux pas came when he indicated he planned to give Champion Pet Foods the ultimatum to fix their odour problem or move out of town, a 180-degree stance from his statement in South Glens the night before when he said he wanted to work with the company to help them do what was right.
Bertschi’s gaff during the forum occurred when he offered rebuttal to council candidate Lisa Holmes who had been critical that the inclusion of the library was withdrawn from the Morinville Community Cultural Centre plans. Bertschi stated he’d received a letter from the library board chairman stating the library did not want to be part of the centre due to its proximity to the high school. Bertschi was criticized for incorrectly identifying who the chairman of the library board actually was during the location decision and for chastising Holmes for not getting her facts straight. Bertschi apologized to Holmes privately the next day.
Now that Morinville has made its decision between the two candidates, Bertschi will be sworn in this Friday Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. The Honourable Ken Kowalski, speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA, will swear in the mayor and each of the council members. The event will be followed by an open house and an organizational meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m. where council members will be appointed to a number of committees.
The swearing in and open house takes place in Council Chambers at St. Germain Plaza (10125 – 100 Avenue.)
Editor’s Note: election results are not official until four days after the election.