Jasper elects four new faces to council

Four new faces will join incumbents Rico Damota and Helen Keheller-Empey, as well as acclaimed Mayor Richard Ireland, on Jasper’s next municipal council.

When the polls closed and the votes were tallied on October 16, along with Damota and Keheller-Empey, candidates Paul Butler, Jenna McGrath, Scott Wilson and Bert Journault were recipients of the most votes.

Reached at her home, surrounded by her family, McGrath said she was excited for the new adventure.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.

“I’m going to learn lots.”

McGrath earned 752 votes, behind Damota’s 952, Kelleher-Empey’s 843 and Butler’s 807. Wilson tallied 560 votes while Journault’s numbered 518.

Journault is currently in Italy. He was fielding warm wishes from a different time zone and texted The Jasper Local a message congratulating the other nominees.

“I am thankful for the support and trust Jasperites have placed in me,” he said. “I believe the elected group will make a great council.”

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Butler echoed those sentiments. The Rotarian and past president of the Chamber of Commerce said he thinks the new council will be well suited to working together.

“I’m honoured by the solid support,” he said.

Compared to his 2013 campaign, Butler said he put much more thought and effort into his 2017 bid. Door knocking was key to interfacing with Jasperites, he said.

“I spent quite a lot of time preparing for the [All-Candidates] forum and understanding as much as I could about the issues facing the town,” Butler said.

On the night of the election, Butler and some of his supporters took in the results at the D’ed Dog Bar and Grill.

That’s also where incumbents Damota and Keheller-Empey viewed the polls as they reported. Damota said he was feeling grateful and excited for the people he gets to work with in the coming term. This is Damota’s fourth time being elected to council.

“Jasper did really well,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good balance to this future council.”

Keheller-Empey was on the same page. She is going into her second term on council.

“This is a diverse group,” she said. “I’m very excited.”

Scott Wilson was also excited to see the results come in—although he wasn’t feeling that way near the beginning of the night. After the first polls reported, Wilson was trailing way behind.

“My ego was a bit hurt,” he laughed. “I thought I didn’t knock on enough doors.”

Soon, however, the second and third updates rolled in. Wilson’s vote share jumped significantly and all of a sudden he was in the running.

“I had a couple of calls congratulating me, but I didn’t want to celebrate just yet,” he said.

His youngest daughter could sense the excitement in his parents; she didn’t want to go to bed.

“I think she was feeling our energy,” he said.

Now Wilson, as well as the rest of Jasper’s council-elect, will direct that energy into serving the community. Wilson expects a steep learning curve but hopes to lean on the experienced councillors.

“The next six months means a ton of initiation.”

The remainder of the candidate’s vote share breaks down as follows:

Alice Lettner (442), Ann Thomas (427), Herb Robinson (389), Troy Mills (365), Grandpa Dong (334), Nicholas Bazin (325), Ginette Marcoux (311), Paul Clarke (279) and Basil Byrd (165).

Voter turnout was 1,466 people. All results are considered unofficial until October 20.

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