ARICHAT: Two of the five new councillors elected Saturday night point out that the results provide a new direction for the embattled municipality.
After the votes were counted on October 17, warden Brian Marchand, former warden Jason MacLean and veteran councillors James Goyetche and Gilbert Boucher all went down to defeat.
First time candidate Melanie Sampson defeated Marchand in district 3, finishing with 604 votes to 506 votes for the incumbent. While the two candidates duked it out for votes in the Louisdale-Grand Anse portion of the district, Sampson won decisively in polls in Point Tupper, Evanston, Whiteside, and Dundee.
Marchand was acclaimed in the district in 2016.
“I feel the results of this election could be a real turning point for Richmond County, an opportunity to start fresh,” Sampson told The Reporter. “As I look around the council table, I am excited by the diverse experience and skills that each new councillor brings. This will help us to make more balanced decisions.”
While she is excited by the potential of this incoming council and feels everyone’s “visions are aligned,” Sampson also acknowledged the “leap of faith” from voters who elected five newcomers.
“In the beginning, we need to become informed,” Sampson said. “We will rely heavily on our [Chief Administrative Officer] Don Marchand to help us get up to speed and determine our next steps
“We need to see what has worked in the past and what areas have been a challenge. We need to continue what’s working and find strategies to solve our challenges.”
MacLean was defeated decisively in district 5 by rookie candidate Brent Sampson, who took 597 votes to 223 for MacLean.
In 2016, MacLean won the district by 11 votes over incumbent, long-time councillor and former warden Gail Johnson.
After thanking MacLean for his service and the voters for their “overwhelming” support, Sampson agreed with the councillor-elect for district 3.
“It feels as if Richmond County has been given an opportunity for a fresh start going forward,” Sampson told The Reporter. “I’m looking forward to bringing the concerns of residents to council but also excited to work with four other great individuals elected yesterday.”
Sampson said “door-to-door canvassing” played a large role in the outcome in his district.
After 12 years on council, Boucher was bested by first time candidate Amanda Mombourquette who won every poll in the district and came away with 869 votes to 284 for the incumbent.
Four years ago, Boucher took the district with a 43-vote majority.
Mombourquette thanked her opponent, and all previous councillors for their years of service.
“It’s not an easy decision to put your name on an election ballot and then carry the weight of the well-being of constituents on your shoulders,” she said in a Facebook post.
The councillor-elect noted it is “serendipitous” that a day after women regained a seat at the table, March 18 was Persons Day in Canada, marking the day in 1929 when the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons” was handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada. Prior to this ruling, women couldn’t participate fully in politics or affairs of state. This set the stage for “The Famous Five” to continue asserting the rights of women until, years later, it was enshrined that women were “persons under the law.”
“All these years later, stepping into this new role as an elected municipal official representing my community, the magnitude of their efforts is top of mind for me, and I’m filled with gratitude for the work of those who have come before me,” Mombourquette said.
After congratulating her new council colleagues, the councillor-elect for district 4 said “improving services, creating positive change, and planning for growth” are her priorities in this four-year term.
“I am so looking forward to the positive changes we can make together. I think we’re going to make a great team for Richmond,” Mombourquette said in her post. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to put these ideas into action. And I’m absolutely looking forward to working with my fellow councillors and with the amazing people and businesses of Richmond County!”
To keep her promise to stay connected, Mombourquette said she will “repurpose” her Facebook campaign page so she can be contacted directly and communicate with voters.
“There’s some hard work ahead,” she noted. “I can’t promise perfection, but I can definitely promise to listen, learn, and work every day with the best interests of Richmond County’s residents and businesses at heart.”
In district 1 Goyetche finished third with 181 votes behind new councillor and political newcomer Shawn Samson, who earned 438 votes, second place candidate and himself a political rookie Brandon Boudreau had 352 votes, and former councillor Rod Samson, who served from 2012-2016, finished fourth with 118 votes.
In 2016, Goyetche ended his 12-year absence from municipal politics by besting Rod Samson by 89 votes.
After former deputy warden Alvin Martell confirmed last winter that he was not seeking re-election, district 2 became a wide-open race which was won by first time candidate Michael Diggdon, who took the district with 523 votes to 173 for former councillor Gerry Bourque, and 153 for Carolyn Clackdoyle.