2 ridings heading to recounts in tight Yellowknife races

Kevin O'Reilly wins in slim margin over Dave Ramsay in Frame Lake. In Yellowknife North, only five votes separate MLA-elect Rylund Johnson and Cory Vanthuyne.

There will be recounts due to slim margins in Frame Lake and Yellowknife North

Kevin O'Reilly at his victory party on election night, after winning Frame Lake by a slim margin. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Several ridings will be heading to recounts in Yellowknife, with tight races in Frame Lake, Yellowknife North and Range Lake.

Incumbent Kevin O'Reilly won by a slim margin in Frame Lake in the N.W.T. election on Tuesday. He received 357 votes; former minister Dave Ramsay received 346 votes. With a margin under two per cent, the riding is headed to a judicial recount.

O'Reilly is a well-known environmental activist. His first term as MLA saw him as a vocal cabinet critic.

Ramsay was a three-term MLA and industry minister with deep connections to the N.W.T.'s mining and contracting industry. He hand-picked the riding after an upset in the 2015 race when he lost to Kieron Testart in Kam Lake.

Ramsay said he will "absolutely" challenge the results, saying the numbers don't add up and he wants to see every ballot.

"I haven't conceded things yet," Ramsay said. "There were some discrepancies at the polling station."

The recount has to happen within 10 days of an application being filed.

In the communities outside of the capital, eight new MLAs were elected; meanwhile, only one incumbent out of six fighting for their seat managed re-election in the 19th Assembly. Three MLAs were acclaimed.

In Yellowknife North, Rylund Johnson won in another tight race. Johnson, a newcomer, took 501 votes. Incumbent Cory Vanthuyne received just five fewer votes, with 496. 

Vanthuyne was first elected in 2015. Johnson is a lawyer and co-founder of Makerspace YK, and the youngest candidate running in the 2019 territorial election, at 29.

Jan Vallillee, a public servant, came in third with 380 votes in Yellowknife North.

Julie Green has been re-elected in Yellowknife Centre. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Green and Cochrane re-elected

Incumbent Caroline Cochrane beat Hughie Graham in Range Lake. She received 439 votes to his 421. It was reported on Tuesday that Range Lake would be the third riding heading to a recount, but on Wednesday the chief electoral officer confirmed that it would not. 

"There was one district [Range Lake] that was very close, but after official addition this morning, the unofficial additions stand," said Nicole Latour. "So there will only be two recounts. One for Frame Lake, and one for Yellowknife North."

Latour added that she hoped to file applications Wednesday, and was optimistic that they will may able to receive a court date to complete the recounts Thursday.

Caroline Cochrane after learning she was re-elected in Range Lake. Cochrane was first elected in 2015 and served on cabinet. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

"He did a great job. It was a very respectful race," Cochrane said of Graham.

When interviewed by CBC, three women had been elected, which Cochrane called "amazing."

"One more woman that gets elected, we have made history in the Northwest Territories. So that's huge and that's exciting."

She wants another cabinet position, saying it makes a difference when women hold ministerial positions.

"It means that maybe family issues, women's issues will get put on the table. We'll be talking about education and health care and child care," Cochrane said.

"I'm hoping that one of the women that gets elected will be sitting beside me in cabinet. That's my goal."

Katrina Nokley with CBC reporter Richard Gleeson after winning in Great Slave. (CBC)

Julie Green has been re-elected in Yellowknife Centre.

Green received 291 votes. Arlene Hache came in second place with 260 votes, followed by Yellowknife city councillor Niels Konge with 185 and former broadcaster Thom Jarvis with 103.

"I am so thrilled that the voters chose me and that I have an opportunity to finish the work that I started in the last assembly," Green said.

"The next thing is to meet everyone and to figure out how we're going to elect the premier, the cabinet, make our priorities."

'It's a bit surreal'

"It's a bit surreal," said engineer Katrina Nokleby, who won in Great Slave. She beat business owner Patrick Scott.

It was also a close race. Nokleby took 454 votes, and Scott received 389.

"It's been a lot of investment and energy and emotion over the last four weeks," Nokleby told CBC. "Now I'm really excited to just get going and see what I can do as an MLA."

Caitlin Cleveland is the winner in Kam Lake. (Submitted)

She said she plans to first meet with chiefs from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to talk about their concerns, including land claims.

"When I was running I had promised them that they would be my first official meeting."

Nokleby and Scott were running in the riding left vacant by outgoing MLA and minister Glen Abernethy. Scott also ran in the 2011 election and was defeated.

Testart unseated in Kam Lake

In Yellowknife South, Caroline Wawzonek beat Gaeleen MacPherson. Wawzonek, a lawyer and former NWT Law Society president, had a substantial lead with 687 votes to MacPherson's 299.

The women were vying for the seat left vacant by Premier Bob McLeod, who did not seek re-election

Wawzonek said she wants to work on building relationships between the MLAs. She said the 19 MLAs need a "cohesive and strong" vision so that they're all working to a common goal.

Kieron Testart lost his seat in Kam Lake to newcomer Caitlin Cleveland. Cleveland received 262 votes. Former MLA Robert Hawkins, who lost his seat in the 2015 election, came in second with 224 votes.

"I'm really looking forward to sitting down with everyone and establishing a really healthy working relationship," said Cleveland.

Testart came third with 220 votes, followed by Yellowknife city councillor Rommel Silverio, Abdullah Al-Mahamud and Cherish Winsor.

In a Facebook post, Testart congratulated Cleveland and thanked his supporters.

"To the people of Kam Lake, it was my honour to represent you in the 18th Assembly. Thank you for the trust you put in me."

He said he does "not know what the future holds," but will spend more time with his family.

Cleveland is a senior policy analyst with the N.W.T. Department of Finance.

There are seven electoral districts that make up the city of Yellowknife. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)


  • This story initially stated that three ridings were headed to recounts. However, the chief electoral officer confirmed Wednesday that after official addition, there will not be a recount in Range Lake.
    Oct 02, 2019 2:37 PM CT

With files from Richard Gleeson, Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi