Susan Johnston with her son Evan

New mayor in Hope

Voters choose five council incumbents and one newcomer

Susan Johnston is taking over Hope’s top job after defeating incumbent mayor Laurie French in Saturday’s municipal election.

The former councillor earned 898 votes from residents, while her opponent garnered 682.

“I can’t wait to get to work,” said Johnston, who will be Hope’s first female mayor. “I wasn’t as surprised as I was shocked at the margin between us. I felt I was going to win all along. I had some tremendous support and I’m very grateful to all of the folks that supported me.”

Before being officially sworn in on Dec. 5, Johnston plans to meet with district staff for an update on municipal business.

“I’m going to be a very active mayor and very hands-on,” she said.

“I will do everything I can to make Hope the place it needs to be.”

For the outgoing mayor, the election results are still sinking in. French said he feels he took the hit for some of council’s tough decisions over the last three years, such as the new garbage contract.

“It certainly was an extreme disappointment. I put my heart and soul into this community,” he said. “I would like to congratulate all those elected. We have a strong council that will continue with the work we started.”

French has served the community for 12 years, nine as councillor and three as mayor.

At the council table, Gerry Dyble will join incumbents Scott Medlock, Peter Robb, Donna Kropp, Ron Smith and Tim Hudie. Current councillor Steve Schroeder did not seek re-election this year.

Voter turnout dropped this year in Hope to 34 per cent from 38 per cent in 2008. Overall, 1,624 ballots were cast out of 4,809 eligible voters. The district will be looking at ways to increase voter participation in 2014.

“Consideration will be given to mail-in ballots and providing transportation for the elderly and those who do not have the ability to drive to a voting opportunity,” said chief election officer Karla Campbell, who is also the district’s director of corporate services.

Council results were: Dyble (1,193), Medlock (1,117), Robb (1,085), Kropp (946), Smith (860), Hudie (814), Cindy Koszegi (648), Walter Rawlinson (473), Dan Williams (365), and Robert Haley (246).