British Columbia

Prince George city council is now 25 per cent millennial, Lyn Hall back as mayor

Few changes in mayor's positions in northern B.C. cities, but some new faces hope to shake things up on council.

Few changes in mayors in northern B.C. cities, but new council faces hope to shake things up

Kyle Sampson, 25 and Cori Ramsay, 31, are the two new faces on Prince George city council, swinging the city's leadership in a younger direction. (Kyle Sampson/Cori Ramsay)

Prince George

Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall scored a decisive re-election victory over Willy Ens, a political newcomer who largely abandoned campaigning for the position.

Hall, however, did run on a campaign to continue to develop senior's housing, improve infrastructure and revitalize downtown in northern B.C.'s largest city. Crime and a rise in discarded needles also became election issues.

Hall will be joined by all six incumbent councillors, along with two new faces — both under 35.

Twenty-five-year-old Kyle Sampson finished second out of 13 candidates, behind perennial voter favourite Brian Skakun and ahead of veteran councillors Garth Frizzell, Murray Krause, Susan Scott, Terri McConnachie and Frank Everitt.

"I didn't know what to expect ... I'm overwhelmed," Sampson said of his victory.

Sampson is the regional manager of Pacific Western Brewing for northern B.C. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The other new face is 31-year-old Cori Ramsay, an anti-poverty advocate who works in the financial industry.

She said her background includes a childhood of dumpster diving, which has shaped her interest in working with people from all walks of life.

Ramsay celebrates her victory with supporters. (Audrey McKinnon/CBC)

Both Ramsay and Sampson said they were excited to learn from experienced councillors, while bringing a more youthful perspective to the table.

"We've got a council who's going to represent a whole lot more of the community," Sampson said.

Gerry Thiessen was re-elected mayor in neighbouring Vanderhoof, defeating Justus Benckhuysen.

Cariboo

In Williams Lake, incumbent Walt Cobb defeated Surinderpal Rathor, a former city councillor who was narrowly defeated by Cobb in 2014. 

Incumbents Scott Nelson, Craig Smith, Jason Ryll and Ivan Bonnell were all elected, as were Marnie Brenner and Sheila Boehm.

Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson (and former MLA) was acclaimed. The city's six councillors are Scott Elliott, Mitch Vik, Ron Paull, Laurey-Anne Roodenburg, Martin Runge and Tony Goulet.

Voters also approved a referendum allowing the city to borrow up to $8.5 million for a new public works facility.

Northeast

There was some change in B.C.'s resource-rich northeast, with Gary Foster defeating incumbent Bill Streeper for the position of mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (Fort Nelson).

Foster, who previously served on council, said his goal was to form several community roundtables to help the community of roughly 4,000 as it continues to struggle after the end of an oil and gas boom.

Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead was re-elected, besting 24-year-old Trenten Laarz who said he was partially motivated to run simply to prevent Bumstead from being acclaimed for a second time. 

Former Dawson Creek Mayor Blair Lekstrom, who left municipal politics to serve as a Liberal MLA and cabinet minister, topped the council polls, followed by another new name, Jerimy Earl. Shaely Wilbur, Paul Gevatkoff, Charlie Parslow and Amy Kaempf make up the rest of the six-person council.

Lekstrom represented the riding of Peace River South under both Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark.

In Fort St. John, Lori Ackerman was acclaimed as mayor, while Becky Grimsrud, Lilia Hansen, Gord Klassen, Bryon Stewart, Tony Zabinsky and Trevor Bolin were elected to council.

Grimsrud, a helicopter pilot, said she plans to "creat coflict, but in a good way" by questioning some of the decisions being made at the council table.

Northwest

There were few surprises in northwestern B.C., where communities are preparing for an LNG boom

In Prince Rupert, Mayor Lee Brain was acclaimed. He endorsed a slate of incumbent candidates, and all four — Blair Mirau, Barry Cunningham, Gurvinder Randhawa and Wade Niesh — topped the polls. They will be joined by Nick Adey and Reid Seklton-Morven.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain endorsed all incumbent councillors for re-election. (Lee Brain/Facebook)

Carol Leclerc was acclaimed as mayor of Terrace. The six councillors elected are Sean M Bujtas, James Cordeiro, Lynne Christiansen, Evan Ramsay, Brian Downie and Jessica McCallum-Miller.

In Kitimat, where a looming housing shortage became a late campaign issue, incumbent Mayor Phil Germuth defeated David Johnston. Mark Zielinski, Mario Feldhoff​, Terry Marleau, Edwin Empinado, Rob Goffinet and Lani Gibson were elected to council.

Further inland, Taylor Bachrach — a vocal advocate for improving travel conditions along the Highway of Tears — was re-elected. He will be joined by Casda Thomas, Frank Wray, Glady Atrill, Lorne Benson, Greg Brown and John Buikema.

About the Author

Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and cbc.ca, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George. You can email him at andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca.

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