Casey edges out Hilstad for Canmore's top job 0
Hamish MacLean/ Canmore LeaderIncumbent Coun. Jim Ridley celebrates with council newcomers Hans Helder, left, and Gordie Miskow, right, at the Royal Canadian Legion Monday night.
Mayor Ron Casey won his reelection bid on election day by a margin that was much closer than many had anticipated.
Casey beat Coun. Pam Hilstad by a margin of 230 votes (1,952 to 1,722) with 3,674 Canmore residents turning out to cast their ballots.
In a race that focused on the Town's "leadership style" and the community's desire for a change, he was unapologetic when answering questions from his campaign headquarters on Main Street Monday night.
The close vote he said was partly a result of his strategy, he didn't get out enough. He added that the fact that he's been there for six years has resulted in him rubbing some people the wrong way.
But he was unapologetic Monday night.
Casey recalled his 1995 orientation on council, where he was told that people who want to get reelected "do nothing."
"People that do something always put their political career at risk," he said. "If you want to do nothing you will always get reelected.
"But for me that was never an option. I've never been a wallflower."
Casey said that he realized halfway through the campaign that he should have been out doorknocking - saying that he felt that doorknocking could have pulled in about 10 to 15 per cent more votes.
"You realize that you started out the campaign wrong, but at that point it's too late to change," he said. He said that his "drop-in nights, did though help.
Particularly certain issues brought out individuals in the community with a vested interest in issues facing the town who helped to clarify and articulate the nature of broader community concerns.
"My whole understanding of youth, and youth issues, and where that needs to go - I didn't really understand it thoroughly enough coming into the election," Casey said. He said that his initial understanding of what was needed for youth in Canmore was off base and that through the community coming to him and bringing their ideas forward, he was able to get a clearer picture of what Canmore youth need. "It was one of those things where you sit and work on the issue 'one-to-one-to-one.'"
Wildlife concerns were brought forward in a new light, he said, for example, that the rabbits in town are an issue just as garbage was before the introduction of bear bins.
Casey said that this was an election with no "burning issues" and so he wouldn't put a finger on a mandate from the elctorate.
"I've always had a mandate of sustaining a community," Casey said. "And I've never been shy about that.
"Every other community like ours in North America, in a resort area like this - in the mountains - they've lost their communities. They have simply lost their communities.
"I understood that and I said, 'You know what? Over my dead body.'"
And though he said he didn't have any plans of running when he was 65 years old, the 59-year-old mayor wouldn't rule out another bid in 2013.
"Part of the issue is you get so involved in it, you get so embroiled in it that you can't let go," Casey said. Wind Valley, and the establishment of wildlife corridors and habitat, he said was an issue that he will continue to work on. "If I quit before that was done, I would always feel like I never succeeded in doing anything.
"You end up being a bit of a dinosaur, but you also end up being a bit of an archive," he said. "Nobody can come to the table on Three Sisters or the Wind Valley issue, whether it's development or whether it's wildlife, with more knowledge than I have.
"So, I'm going to see that through."
The issues, he said, will determine his willingness to stay on at the job.
Casey said that he had mixed feelings about his win however.
Primarily over losing a good councillor in Hilstad in the process.
"Truly Pam has been a great asset on this council," he said. Sitting on his left hand side, the traditional chair of his "grounding" chair.
"Now somebody else is going to take that chair up, but nevertheless, that's the direction I look when I need help and so that's the sad part."
Nevertheless, he said he was looking forward to tackling the upcoming budget with the new council.
"The budget's always huge, the budget is the number one issue that any council has to deal with - that's the one thing you're put on council to deal with," he said.
Casey said that the experience that is returning to Canmore's council will be an asset - it takes, he said, two to five years of sorting through the budget process to truly understand how the process works. But that with two incumbents and a former councillor in the mix council won't be at too much of a disadvantage this year.
"I've been on council when we've had four or five people who haven't experienced the budget before. It's a huge learning curve for those new people, but the good news is that we've got in fact three returning councillors - I count John Borrowman as a returning councillor - we've got three who have been through this before."
Canmore's 2010-2013 council
*Ron Casey - 1,952
Pam Hilstad - 1,722
*Ed Russell - 1,809
*John Borrowman - 1,611
*Gordie Miskow - 1,502
*Joanna McCallum - 1,404
*Jim Ridley - 1,400
*Hans Helder - 1,391
Kristy Davison - 1,219
Louis Desroches - 1,214
Ric Proctor - 1,159
Jason Knudtson - 1,094
Donna Scott - 1,055
Bob Warwick - 828
Jeff Caskenette - 788
Jesse Guest - 742
Jude Sternloff - 593
Wade Graham - 444
Mathew Brouillet - 397
James Louden - 142