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Morrill ready to take reins

Athabasca woke up last Tuesday morning to a new mayor, as Roger Morrill beat incumbent Colleen Powell, 544 votes to 333. Mayor-elect Morrill is due to take office on Oct.

Athabasca woke up last Tuesday morning to a new mayor, as Roger Morrill beat incumbent Colleen Powell, 544 votes to 333.

Mayor-elect Morrill is due to take office on Oct. 26 after being elected on a platform of fiscal conservatism, including a pledge to end council retreats.

Apart from abolishing paid retreats, Morrill said he will not implement major policies until discussing the current situation regarding municipal development, the local economy, and the hot-button issue of rising water rates with both town CEO Doug Topinka and outgoing mayor Powell, along with the new council.

“We’re going to take a good, researched look at what we want to implement,” said Morrill.

Powell said the upcoming rise in water bills cost her the election, as the new treatment plant that the new costs are meant to cover was opened on her watch.

“The new council will realize that they don’t have a lot of wriggle room, but that’s besides the point,” said Powell, adding that costs will rise no matter who’s in office.

Despite the no-win issue of water bills, Morrill said he’s committed to attracting new businesses to Athabasca and maintaining local economic growth, while improving basic infrastructure such as cracked sidewalks and roads.

Morrill received word of his victory from the elections scrutineer at 10:30 p.m. last Monday after a tense wait of several hours, which he said was probably the hardest part of his whole campaign.

Reacting to news of her loss on election night, Powell said she was disappointed.

“Congratulations to Roger,” she said. “It was a pretty good campaign on both sides.”

“I was very pleased with the voter turnout, I think this community showed a lot of democratic concern,” said Morrill.

The incoming council consists of the newly elected Richard and Tim Verhaeghe, plus incumbents Christine Nelson, Paula Evans, George Hawryluk and Lionel Cherniwchan.

After she steps down this week, Powell plans on spending two or three weeks with her daughter in Vancouver, before returning to take a more active role in the Heritage Society and renovating the train station.

“I don’t want to rush into anything right now,” she said.





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