Deb Higgins was all smiles as she was voted Moose Jaw’s first female mayor Wednesday.
“(I’m) pretty excited. It was a very tight race. The numbers were very close all night long. (I) finally had a little bit of breathing room with the very last polls,” said Higgins. “It was a little tighter in some of the areas than I thought it was going to be, but you know what, the end result was wonderful and we’ve got a very good mix of experience and new people on council and (I’m) looking forward to the next four years.”
In the initial results after Wednesday evening, Higgins received 53 per cent of the votes (5,239 votes) while Fraser Tolmie received 46 per cent (4,645 votes). Higgins said that being a lifelong resident of the city and her community involvement played a part in why people voted for her.
“I think also we ran a very good campaign that spoke to the issues people are concerned about with the infrastructure, with housing, made comments about Valley View,” said Higgins. “I mean, they’re all things that are important to the city of Moose Jaw and I think my campaign actually addressed a number of those issues or focused on them so that we know they’re a going to be a priority over the next four years.”
Higgins will be Moose Jaw’s 51st mayor.
She said the first thing to do is to meet with the new council and see what individual councillors’ priorities are for the next four years to establish some common ground.
This is the first council in recent history to sit for a four-year term rather than a three-year term.
“I think it actually is a good step, that it gives council a little more time to get settled in to what may be new rules and focus on long-term issues instead of just focusing every three years,” said Higgins.
“A three-year span isn’t very long when you’re talking about things like housing and infrastructure. So four years, I think, will be good.”
Fraser Tolmie, who was a member of the last council for three years, said he was expecting the race to be tight and that he was proud of the efforts he put forward in the campaign.
“One of the things that I’ve held closely to me — to my chest — with this election is that it was about honour.
“It was about honouring the people that had gone before us, that had served as city councillors, as mayor … and then honouring the decision of the citizens of Moose Jaw,” said Tolmie. “I respect that. I’m excited. This city is going to move forward and I respect Deb Higgins and I just look forward to her working with this new council and seeing good things coming down the line.”
He didn’t feel anything went wrong, but rather things went right because he worked hard. He added he didn’t “even notice that there was only a couple hundred votes between us.”
When asked if he thought his negative campaign cost him votes, Tolmie said, “I tried to remain fact-based. I always asked myself the tough questions and if I can ask myself the tough questions, I should be able to ask other people the tough questions.
“Politics is a results-based businesss … I am very proud of what I’ve done and what I’ve achieved.”