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Heron wins second term in close race

“It’s good to have your blood pumping,” Heron said.
All smiles: Cathy Heron and daughter Holly embrace after it's announced that Heron has won a second term as the mayor of St. Albert at Paddy's Pub on Oct. 18, 2021. JESSICA NELSON/St. Albert Gazette

Cathy Heron has clinched a second term as St. Albert’s mayor with 39 per cent of the vote, defeating newcomer Angela Wood in a close race. 

Trailing Wood for the first portion of the night, Heron ultimately pulled ahead when five polling stations reported their results. Wood ended up garnering 36 per cent of the vote, with other candidates David Letourneau and Bob Russell bringing in 15 per cent and 10 per cent of votes, respectively. 

St. Albert saw a decrease in voter turnout from the previous election in 2017. This year, 17,574 voters cast ballots of the 50,500 who are eligible, totalling 34.8 per cent. This is down from 42.9 per cent in 2017. 

Heron will be joined by council incumbents Ken MacKay, Sheena Hughes, Wes Brodhead, and Natalie Joly, alongside council newcomers Mike Killick and Shelley Biermanski. 

Heron said the night came with “mixed emotions,” noting she is sad to say goodbye to councillors Ray Watkins and Jacquie Hansen who served on council this past term, but excited to work with new faces and those re-elected. 

“It’s good to have your blood pumping,” Heron said of the close race. “I thanked everyone for stepping up, because they gave St. Albert a choice. The results reflect the values of St. Albert.”

In addition to meeting with her team in the coming days, Heron said she is ultimately most excited to get back to work. 

“The city needs leadership and governance, and that’s going to start tomorrow,” Heron said on Monday night. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Heron waited for the results alongside MacKay and Brodhead at Paddy’s Pub. After her win was announced, she directly addressed her supporters.

“Thank you for bringing me back,” Heron said. “I promise you have a strong leader. I’ve learned from the first four years, and I will make it happen in the years to come.”

Highlighting the results of the council election, Heron emphasized she will take a “collaborative” approach with newcomers. 

“We will figure out a way to take the divide that ran through this election and become a unified council,” Heron said. 

Heron outlined her goals for the term, describing plans to meet with businesses and landowners in the downtown core to work toward revitalizing the downtown area, and an aim to protect St. Albert’s river valley. 

Another priority she named for the term was climate change. 

“We’re going to figure out how we can get our energy from other sources that are green, find a way to build energy efficient buildings, push public transit, and turn our waste into a resource,” Heron said. 

Speaking to her love of the job, Heron said her passion wavered during her term due to negative feedback from residents on some of her decisions. 

“Being in the mayor’s chair, you get unkind emails,” Heron said. “‘Why are you raising the pride flag, that’s just not right,’ ‘Why is the Treaty Six flag over the Canada flag?’ These are not nice people, but they’re in my city and I’m their mayor, and I have to understand them and learn about them.”

Heron also spoke to the divide she feels the COVID-19 pandemic has created in St. Albert.

“With this election — and with putting me back as mayor, I can bring some unity back to this community,” Heron said. “That’s the goal for the next four years, to provide unity and love of St. Albert.”

Wood to return to law

In the final year of her law degree, Wood said she looks forward to continuing to pursue the profession. She said she feels the results of the election are “unfortunate.”

“I think a lot of St. Albertans wanted change, and I feel for that,” Wood said. “I was really wanting to make the positive change residents deserve.”

The newly elected council is scheduled to hold its inaugural meeting Nov. 1. 

Rachel Narvey

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