August 14th, 2018

Another Clugston rout

By Collin Gallant on October 17, 2017.

NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT Mayor Ted Clugston makes a speech to the crowd of supporters gathered at The Beveridge Building on Monday night. Clugston has been re-elected for a second term.

Ted Clugston sailed to re-election on Monday night, winning a second term as mayor in Medicine Hat, saying that issues of transit and transparency at city raised by his opponents failed to resonate with voters.

He also said winning another majority mandate from voters was “redemption.”

“I’ve done the job, and I think that generally the people have approved of what we’ve done on council,” he told supporters at The Beveridge Landmark Events on Second Street in downtown Medicine Hat.

Clugston’s 9,317 votes on Monday gave him an overall majority, and more than double his closest competitor, former alderman John Hamill who earned 4,119. First time candidates Scott Raible (2,516 votes) and Thomas Fougere (497) rounded out the four-person race.

Clugston earned fewer votes than in 2013, but increased his percentage (56.6 this time) win due to lower voter turnout. Unofficially, about 2,800 fewer votes were cast for mayor compared to 2013.

Clugston had campaigned saying his leadership style had helped the city implement a 10-year-budget plan to cut out a structural deficit, would return energy production to profitability and have set the stage for economic growth.

Opponents railed against council uniformity when voting on issues, blasted tax and fee increases, and said a controversial transit change had hurt citizens.

Clugston said the election threatened to become a race about transit and transparency.

“My opponents were way out of tune with people like you,” he told supporters. “You pay your taxes and go to work; you’re the other 99 per cent.”

Hamill and Raible did not return phone calls seeking comment on Monday night.

Fougere said the Mayors comments were “loaded.”

“I think he was speaking to the people in the room,” said Fougere. “People who sit on boards and probably have good paying jobs. Maybe those people don’t realize the struggles of people who deal (with transit).”

While voters re-endorsed Clugston, results for council were more of a mixed bag.

Two incumbent councillors lost out, while two previously serving aldermen were returned and a first time candidate joined five from the previous term.

Speaking before council results were final, Clugston also thanked recent members of council. He specifically pointed to the lack of infighting or grandstanding following his arrest and guilty plea in early 2014 to driving under the influence.

“There’s only one council in Canada that would have given me their 100 per cent support,” he said.

He said he wished all council candidates well.

Monday marked the second time Hamill has placed second for mayor. In 1998 he placed a close second to incumbent Ted Grimm, coming within 279 votes of beating the longtime incumbent when more than 20,000 ballots were cast.

This time out, Hamill had stressed his experience and — while approaching 80 years of age — his enthusiasm to bring new business and cut spending.

Raible entered the campaign in early September. He announced his intention to run on Labour Day Weekend, and aimed to make gains after city’s controversial transit route changes were imposed at the start of the school year.

Fougere, a blogger who does promotional work, told the media he was running to advertise that citizens should take a more active role in the city.

During debates he questioned transparency at city hall, renewed his long-running criticism of the City Centre Development Agency and outlined his support for medicinal marijuana.

He was also the only candidate to outline crime and especially drug crime as an issue in the election.

“There was some discussion about some things that people weren’t talking about before the campaign,” said Fougere, who attended Clugston’s victory party to concede.

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