Much like the mayor's race, the voters of Estevan opted for experience when it came to selecting the six members of city council.
Three incumbent councillors, one former councillor and two men with significant experience in municipal government will join Mayor Roy Ludwig in setting the City of Estevan's course over the next four years.
Dennis Moore, Chris Istace and Brian Johnson were all selected to serve another term on council. Also taking their seat at the council table will be former councillor Lori Carr as well as Greg Hoffort and Kevin Smith.
Although he was making his first run at a spot on council, Hoffort captured the highest number of votes with 2,365. This was the third straight election in which a person making their first run at council earned the most votes. Smith was in sixth place with 1,589 votes.
Moore led the way among the incumbents with 2,220 votes. Istace was second among incumbents and third overall with 2,061 votes while Johnson finished with 2,045 votes. Carr was fifth overall after earning 1,773 votes. The lone incumbent not to be re-elected was Rodney Beatty who finished seventh in the voting with 1,099 votes. Mohammad Waseem was eighth and Cameron Robock placed ninth. (Please see chart for official totals and poll by poll breakdown.)
Hoffort said entering the election he was unsure of whether or not he would claim a seat on council and was pleased that voters gave him an overwhelming nod of approval.
"I had a lot of encouragement and support from people, but as far as where I would finish in the list, I had no notion as to that," he said.
Although he will enter council as a rookie, Hoffort is truly anything but when it comes to the realm of municipal politics. The former administrator of the RM of Estevan, Hoffort dealt directly with the City on a number of matters and has a strong working knowledge of the City's inner business.
"My years of municipal experience are on the other side of the table so there will some learning curve going in," said Hoffort who added he is also very familiar with his fellow councillors. "Just about all of the councillors who were elected tonight I have worked with in the past on other boards and committees. I've worked an awful lot on many committees with the new mayor. I think it's got the makings of a great team and I look forward to getting at it."
Smith also brings municipal government experience to the council table, his as a long-term member of the Estevan Board of Police Commissioners, the past two years as chairman. Although he expects there to be a learning curve, he said the past experience with the board will be helpful.
"I'm sure it's going to be a little bit of work to get caught up to speed, but there are a lot of good people and I am not afraid to ask for a little bit of help," Smith said. "There's always a transition. There is a protocol and a process so once you get past that, you just move on and you get up to date with the issues."
Smith added he would also like to continue his work with the police board as a councillor.
"In the near future we are going to be looking for a new police chief, and that is one of the things I am very interested in to make sure that we go through that process and pick the right person because we have enjoyed four years now of a good leader, and I think it is going to be very important that we continue down that path. I'd like to be part of that because I am very aware of the process and what is needed to be done in that office."
Moore said he was both pleased and surprised to receive the most votes among the incumbent councillors and felt a strong campaign was critical to his success.
"I didn't expect that I would hold those same kind of numbers as last time and I guess it shows that if you pay attention to the people asking questions … and you pay attention to what they have to say, this is what can happen to you," said Moore who noted that one of the issues he heard a lot from voters was the state of sidewalks in the city.
"Sounds like small stuff but even as of yesterday I went to some people's houses, one to show me how bad their sidewalk was on the west end."
Moore said moving forward, his top priorities will be repairing the north end of Kensington Avenue, finishing off the Spectra Place parking lot and continued roadwork.
With Ludwig moving into the mayor's chair, Johnson now becomes the most veteran member of council with 12 years on the job.
Johnson said he is looking forward to having some fresh faces on council as they tackle the issues facing Estevan. Among the topics he would like to focus on are the upcoming budget and wrapping up some of the projects that have already been started.
"We've got a lot of construction going on out there right now. We want to see that there are good reports on those projects being finished and in a timely fashion and on budget with good results," he said.
Helping add to the experience level on council will be Carr who served from 2003 to 2009 when she was defeated in that year's election. Carr said she is obviously happy with the results and looks forward to rejoining council. She added that tending to the budget later this year will be an excellent way for both her and the other members of council to get started.
"It will be a really good way for everybody, even the new people to get involved because they can see exactly what is going on and what kind of requests come forward," she said. "I am looking really forward to working with Roy Ludwig, all of his years of experience and his cool, calm nature, which I think will lead the team forward really well."
Istace earned a second straight mandate from local voters in last week's election and like in 2009, he was among the leading vote getters. He is pleased to receive the strong support and feels it is confirmation that the issues he is pushing in council are issues that matter to Estevan residents.
"It reaffirms that you are on the right track and you hold the right philosophy in how you approach things," he said. "It was definitely a validating experience."
Istace said along with the infrastructure matters the City is facing, a topic he will push is bringing curbside recycling to Estevan. He noted the money to set up a program is available from the provincial government and that some of the legwork has already started.
"We just need to make that happen right away," he said. "I feel strongly about getting the ball rolling on that."
The other vote of interest last Wednesday was the residential speed limit. Voters were asked whether or not they would like to see the speed limit in select residential areas dropped to 40 km/h and the response was not overly clear as the yes side passed by just 26 votes.
Because the vote was just a plebiscite and not a referendum, council will make the final decision on the matter. A date for when that vote might take place has not been set.