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K'atlodeeche votes to keep separate election for chief

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River Reserve (Dec 19/05) - Members of K'atlodeeche First Nation have voted against changing the way their chief is elected.

In a Dec. 7 referendum, the majority of voters decided to maintain a separate vote for chief and council. The other option was the highest vote-getter among those running for council would become chief.

A number of other changes to the band's election code were approved. Chief Roy Fabian says people did not want a single election for chief and council, because of the uncertainty over who would become leader.

For example, there was concern over what would happen if the top vote-getter didn't want to be chief, and the position went to the second-place finisher or even further down the line.

"We'll stay with the status quo," Fabian says.

Voters approved an increase in the number of councillors from four to six, three-year terms instead of two, a lower voting age from 19 to 18, a two-year residency requirement on the reserve before a person can run for council and several other changes. Those are the first major changes to the election code since it was created in 1991.

"I think it's good they decided to change some of those things," Fabian says. The voter turnout for the referendum was low - only 36 of about 190 eligible voters cast ballots.