Past mayor Rob McDougall

MacDougall is mayor…again

Official results confirm MacDougall as mayor elect.

He’s back.

The official results will put Rob MacDougall at the helm as mayor of Fort St. James for the next three years.

“It was a pleasant result for me,” said MacDougall. “I’d hoped (the voters) still had the confidence in me.”

MacDougall sees his past experience in both business and politics as having been assets in his campaign, as well as his past relationships with First Nations. He was a councillor in Fort St. James from 1996 to 2005 and mayor from 2006 until 2008.

“I’m very excited,” said MacDougall. “There are some things that need to be addressed right away.”

One of his first priorities upon taking office will be to address the doctor shortage in the community.

“We need to make sure we have physicians here,” he said, noting the high risk occupations of logging and mining in the area make this especially true.

“We’re very active people and a lot of our activities carry risks with (them),” MacDougall said, mentioning snowmobiling and boating.

He suggested looking at a salaried model like the one in place in Fraser Lake and being looked at now in Burns Lake in order to address the issues around burnout.

He also hopes to address downtown parking and traffic concerns, which have become a major concern for the community, and he stressed the need for public input to solve the problem.

“We have to do something because to do nothing is counterproductive,” he said.

MacDougall took the mayoral seat with 220 votes, with a narrow margin of 38 between him and second-place candidate Ann McCormick.

MacDougall does not view the win as narrow, however, after having lost the last election in 2008 to Sandra Harwood by only six votes.

“I think it’s a clear mandate for me to be the mayor and be a leader and work with council,” said MacDougall.

He attributes the previous election loss to unrest created by unemployment during the economic downturn after 2008.

MacDougall sees a lot of issues he aims to tackle over the next three years and he wants to bring back the community visioning sessions to allow for public input as well.

Ann McCormick had secured 182 votes, incumbent mayor Sandra Harwood had 75 and Brenda Gouglas, an incumbent councillor had 52 votes.

The new council includes Joan Burdeniuk, with 386 votes, Riley Willick, the youngest councillor, with 365 votes, incumbent Dave Birdi with 364 votes, and Russ Gingrich with 295 votes.

The new mayor and council will be sworn in on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, in a ceremony open to the public, and will serve until 2015.