Blaine Hyggen new Lethbridge mayor with 43% support

This makes Hyggen the 26th middle-aged white man in a row to be elected as mayor of Lethbridge.

Lethbridge has a new city council. Blaine Hyggen is the new mayor, and city council has all 4 incumbents back on, as well as 4 new faces.

  • Blaine Hyggen (mayor)
  • Rajko Dodic
  • Belinda Crowson
  • Jenn Schmidt-Rempel
  • Ryan Parker
  • John Middleton-Hope
  • Mark Campbell
  • Jeff Carlson
  • Nick Paladino

Out of 81,276 eligible voters, only 28,348 of them showed up to the polls, a turnout of is less than 35%.

That’s higher than the 29.8% who showed up in 2013, when Chris Spearman was elected mayor, but lower than the 35.1% in 2010, when Rajko Dodic became mayor.

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It was a tight race for the mayoral seat, with Bridget Mearns barely leading in early results, but Blaine Hyggen quickly took the lead and maintained it for most of the night, as results continued pouring in.

Hyggen won with 42.79% of the popular vote, according to unofficial results from the City of Lethbridge. That’s the second highest showing for a new mayor in the last 20 years.

Bob Tarleck won against 4 other candidates in 2001 with 39.9% of the vote, Dodic won in 2010 with 25.2% of the vote against 5 other candidates, and Spearman won with 46.1% of the vote in 2013, running against 3 others.

Mearns herself received 40.97% of the vote, a vast improvement over her second-place finish of 30% in 2013. This was the strongest second-place finish for the office of mayor since at least 1998. The next highest was in 2004, when Joe Mauro got 33.52% running against Tarleck.

Here’s how the popular vote broke down for all 6 mayoral candidates:

Blaine Hyggen11,97342.79%
Bridget Mearns11,46540.97%
Stephen Mogdan2,4598.79%
Sheldon Day Chief1,0793.86%
Gary Klassen6872.45%
Kolton Menzak3211.15%

As far as the new city council goes, there were some interesting developments. First, here are there results:

Rajko Dodic12,0797.32%
Belinda Crowson10,7386.51%
Jenn Schmidt-Rempel10,4636.34%
Ryan Parker10,2566.22%
John Middleton-Hope10,0466.09%
Mark Campbell9,1175.53%
Jeff Carlson8,8775.38%
Nick Paladino7,9164.80%

Three of the new city councillors were on my list of candidates to watch: Dodic, Middleton-Hope, and Paladino. I underestimated how well known Schmidt-Rempel was.

The other 4 people on my candidates to watch list—Jenn Prosser, Bill Ginther, Harold Pereverseff, and Davey Wiggers—had mixed results.

Ginther came in 10th place with nearly 6,300 votes, and Prosser came in right behind him in 11th, with nearly 5,900 votes. This was Perverseff’s 3rd election, but he dropped from 12th place to 13th. Wiggers dropped from 24th place in his first election to 27th place this time around.

Here are the 8 candidates who came in right behind those who were elected:

Ryan Wolfe7,6514.64%9th
Bill Ginther6,2893.81%10th
Jenn Prosser5,8723.56%11th
Kelti Baird5,7853.51%12th
Harold Perverseff5,6433.42%13th
Wally Schenk5,5743.38%14th
Darcy Logan4,8832.96%15th
Marissa Black4,8392.93%16th

And here are the candidate who came in last. For all but Wiggers, this was their first municipal election in Lethbridge.

Michael Petrakis4060.25%32nd
Bradley Whalen4870.30%31st
Chris Rowley7630.46%30th
Bernard Mbonihankuye8500.52%29th
Ben Christensen1,2070.73%28th
Davey Wiggers1,7071.04%27th
Robin Walker1,8841.14%26th
Dale Leier2,3331.41%25th

The first thing that was surprising regarding those who won was how well Dodic did. When he was first elected to city council in 2004, he came in 5th place, then bumped up to 4th in the 2007 election. And while he won the 2010 mayoral election, it was a tight 3-way race, leading to him getting only 25.2% of the vote.

Dodic’s winning first place means that Campbell was unseated as the most popular councillor, which he had won in 2017. He’s now down in 6th place.

Crowson rose from her 5th place showing in 2017 to 2nd place this year. Parker remained at 4th place and Carlson dropped to 7th place from 3rd.

Over the last 20 years, Parker has placed 1st or 2nd place in 4 elections. This is his 3rd election placing 4th place and the second in a row. This could be a sign that he’s losing the public support he enjoyed early in his career. He is the longest-serving member of city council.

This is Carlson’s worst showing since being elected in 2007. This could potentially be his last term on city council, too. That being said, he dropped from 2nd place in 2007 to 5th place in 2010, yet came back to get 2nd place in 2017, so we may not be able to count him out just yet.

With Schmidt-Rempel joining Crowson on council, this will be the first time since Mearns won her 2014 byelection race that Lethbridge has had 2 women sitting on city council.

I anticipate that this will be the most divisive city council ever. Gone are the days of 7–2 votes on city matters. I believe we will see many more 5–4 votes on issues, and there will be very little real progress made on social issues. Any movement on such issues will simply be superficial.

For example, dealing with crime will likely come down to increasing policing, as a majority of the new council, as well as the new mayor, responded to a Lethbridge Herald election question indicating that they opposed city council’s decision to cut $1 million in new funding for the Lethbridge Police Service. A majority also oppose opening up a new supervised consumption site.

It’s going to be an interesting 4 years.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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