Victoria Beach chooses new reeve, giving challenger a whopping 81% of the vote
Incumbent reeve swept out of office after series of troubles in Lake Winnipeg community
Residents of Victoria Beach elected a new reeve in a landslide on Friday, voting out the incumbent by a margin of more than four to one.
According to unofficial results posted on the rural municipality's website, Penny McMorris won with 81 per cent of the vote. The former councillor received 1,089 out of 1,339 votes cast, easily outpacing former reeve Brian Hodgson, who received the remaining 250 votes.
In addition to a new reeve, Victoria Beach will also have a new council, as none of the incumbent councillors sought re-election.
Hodgson and the RM's council had been embroiled in controversy in the months leading up to the vote.
In April, members of the volunteer fire department threatened to walk off the job in protest after council voted 4-1 to dismiss Fire Chief Brad Patzer. McMorris cast the lone dissenting vote.
One month later, water service in the community was affected for days by emergency repairs to the water plant. At the time, Hodgson cited a lack of "plans or specifications for that plant on site," while former chief administrative officer Raymond Moreau blamed a lack of certified technicians working at the plant.
The community was again hit by water woes on Friday, when the province issued a "do not consume" order after it said an "unauthorized chemical" was added during the treatment process.
After Friday's vote, acting fire chief Wolf Kraft said the RM's problems boil down to lack of leadership, from the reeve on down.
"The voters have definitely spoken out against the former council and the actions that the former council took," Kraft said Saturday morning.
"So change is definitely in the air for us. I'm happy that our community can now start to heal and we can move forward from here and get things back to some state of community and unity."
Kraft was one of the people who spoke out against Patzer's dismissal in April. With a new reeve and council in place, he said he's hoping his time as chief will soon come to an end.
"My hope is that we'll have a dialogue and that Brad will be reinstated as the fire chief of Victoria Beach."
In an emailed statement, McMorris said she is looking forward to working with the new council and wished the outgoing councillors all the best. She said she couldn't speak to any of the issues facing the RM until she is officially sworn in.
"I can say that I was surprised and pleased by the voter turnout in this election and very pleased with my results," she added.
Hodgson could not be reached for comment Saturday.