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New mayor, council turnover for village
Fort Simpson sees fresh faces to lead community

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, October 15, 2015

The village will move forward this year with incoming Mayor Darlene Sibbeston at the helm.

NNSL photo/graphic

New Fort Simpson mayor Darlene Sibbeston won with 234 votes against incumbent Sean Whelly and fellow challenger John Dempsey. - NNSL file photo

Sibbeston won with 234 votes against incumbent Sean Whelly and fellow challenger John Dempsey.

Sibbeston, who currently works as a probation officer in Fort Simpson, has previously sat on village council and is also a current member of the Fort Simpson Métis Nation Board of Directors.

Sibbeston said in an e-mail interview prior to being elected that she put her name in so the community would have a choice when it came time for polling, instead of the mayoral position being acclaimed for the second election in a row.

"Then there were three of us, which (was) even better for our community," she said.

Sibbeston campaigned on a platform of transparency and said her top two concerns include river bank erosion and replacing ancient water and sewer infrastructure that often breaks during winter months.

"Instead of reacting to (water breaks), let's be proactive and start things one step ahead," she said.

The municipal election, which brought residents out to the polls on Oct. 19, saw a sizeable turnover of council as well, with three incumbents retaining their seats.

Larry Cambell, Marie Lafferty and Bob Hanna will continue in their previous positions on the eight-seat council.

Joining them will be incoming councillors Liza McPherson, Jarret Hardisty, Charles Blyth, Cheryl Cli, and Muaz Hassan.

After the last regular meeting of the outgoing council on Oct. 20, outgoing Mayor Sean Whelly said he is proud of what the village has been able to accomplish during the six years he served as mayor.

Whelly was elected as mayor in 2009 and acclaimed in 2011.

Reflecting on his time at the council table, Whelly said he is proud of the fiscal restraint the village has been able to show.

"There was really good financial management of the village for those six years. We were able to always run our affairs without having to raise taxes ... (and) we kept our fees extremely low," he said.

Some key accomplishments he noted include the completion of the village's sewer treatment plant, a major capital expenditure, as well as the Fort Simpson pool, which opened two years ago.

"I ran on improving people's quality of life. I think, going forward - and I heard this from many prospective councillors -- the focus (should be) on youth and recreation," he said.

"That's a message I, too, believe in."

Whelly encouraged the new council to continue the previous council's work on chip-sealing roads as well as "keep the government's feet to the fire" on issues such as community funding formula increases.

"I wish I could have been around to help see that actually get implemented, but we'll leave that to the able hands of the new council and mayor," he said.

"I'm sure they're going to do a great job."

On Oct. 19, residents also elected six community members to the District Education Authority (DEA). Ashley Menicoche, Katherine Dempsey, Stephanie Cudmore, Adrea Mitchell, Lisa Lafferty and Renalyn Pascua-Matte will represent Fort Simpson this term on the education board.

Voter turnout was not available at press time

The newly elected mayor and council are scheduled to be sworn in during their first council meeting on Nov. 2

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