Michael Knight and Joanne Cornelssen have been elected to sit on Crossfield Town council, following a byelection held on May 10.
After a day's worth of votes had been tallied, Knight led the polls with 281 votes – 45 per cent of the vote. Cornelssen was the runner-up, with 195 votes (31 per cent), while Jean Gauthier finished in third with 146 votes, or just under 24 per cent of the vote.
Knight, who was running for public office for the first time, said he was excited to be elected, adding he’s looking forward to collaborating with the other members of council.
“I know two of them and Joanne as well, so it’s fantastic to be part of a group that I think will be aligned with the best interests of the town,” he said.
The byelection was held to fill two vacancies on council left by Devon Helfrich, who passed away in January, and Glenn Price, who resigned from the position of deputy mayor in March due to personal medical reasons.
Once they are sworn in at the next meeting, Knight and Cornelssen will serve on Crossfield’s council until October, when voters return to the polls once again for the 2021 municipal election. Due to a bylaw council passed in January, Crossfieldians will elect seven members of council in October, rather than the previous five.
Knight credited his name recognition in the community for helping him secure the highest number of votes. A Crossfield resident of 12 years, he said he has been involved in local clubs throughout his time in town, including the Crossfield curling club, Crossfield minor ball and the Crossfield Elks.
“I think the more you’re out interacting with different people, the more people get to know you,” he said.
Council’s priorities until the general election in October, according to Knight, will likely be the hiring of a new chief administrative officer and the completion of the downtown revitalization plan.
Similar to Knight, Cornelssen said she feels her reputation as a business owner in Crossfield’s downtown helped secure her the votes needed.
“They know me as a person and know how I run a business,” she said. “That was one of the biggest things – my business experience – because we need business experience on council. At this time, no one on council owns a business, so my experience can be an asset when it comes to budgets and dealing with suppliers.”
She said her main goal in joining council is to “get Crossfield back to where it used to be,” adding she would like to help renew the town’s sense of community – something she said has gone away in recent years.
“We don’t have that small-town feel anymore, and it seems a little divided,” she said.
Lastly, Cornelssen said council needs to find ways to get the community more engaged in projects the Town is undergoing.
“I want to make sure everyone is aware of everything going on as much as possible,” she said. “There are always open houses when projects are going on, but there isn’t a good turnout.
“We need to figure out a way to get better turnout before the projects go ahead. We’ll do a big project and hear grievances after the fact, but if they had participated before, we could have nipped some of those in the bud to begin with.”
While he was the only candidate to not be elected, Gauthier offered his congratulations to Knight and Cornelssen following the byelection.
“I was obviously hoping to be voted in, but I respect the voters’ choice and am happy for Mike and Joanne,” he said in an email to the Rocky View Weekly.
“I think you’ll do our town a great service. To the rest of council, it’s a tough and often thankless job, but I appreciate you.”
Gauthier said he enjoyed the process of running for council and there’s nothing he would have done differently during the campaign. He added he will consider running again in October.
“I’d love to do it without the limitations currently in place,” he said.
The byelection results will be made official on May 14 at noon.