Port McNeill’s new mayor and council were officially sworn in to office during a special ceremony Nov. 5 at the town’s council chambers.
Deputy Administrator Pete Nelson-Smith greeted the residents who came out to watch the proceedings, noting he was the chief election officer for the municipal election, and that “The meeting tonight is going to consist of making mayor and council elects into mayor and councillors.”
Mayor-elect Gaby Wickstrom was the first to take the oath from Nelson-Smith, effectively being sworn in to the position that was previously held by Shirley Ackland.
After that, each councillor (Ann-Marie Baron, Shelley Downey, Ryan Mitchell and Derek Koel) were sworn in to their positions.
Here is what each person had to say after being sworn in:
Mitchell – “During the time that I spent campaigning, it was interesting for me to discover how many people move through this town that aren’t residents — it’s very amazing. As a councillor, I’m realizing that’s an aspect of governing that needs to be taken into consideration, because the people who don’t actually vote still contribute an awful lot to our community … It was great getting out and meeting a lot of people, hearing their concerns, and I really look forward to hearing from people and acting in a way that solves the problems we encounter.”
Baron – “I am very humbled at the way the voting went (Baron received 744 votes, the most out of any candidate in her riding). After talking to everybody that came up to me with things to say, I truly hope we get to listen, we get to hear, and we actually get to get some things done … We’re a can-do community.”
Downey – “It’s a real pleasure to be back serving the community of Port McNeill again (Downey was the only incumbent councillor who ran again for the position). We had four years, a lot of groundwork was done, a lot of foundation was shored up, and Port McNeill is sitting in a real great position right now in terms of the leg work that’s been done, and we’re positioned with finances now that we can actually move ahead with on a lot of substantial changes that a lot of the community has been asking for, not just in this election cycle but in past election cycles. We’re in a position now to do that. There is work to be done and it will be a busy time, but I’m looking at this table here, and if there ever was a crew to get this done, these are the people who will get it done.”
Koel – “I’m totally honoured to be working with all the council members and the new mayor — Frankly, I’m really humbled by how many people voted for me … I’m looking forward to … checking out all the facilities, the public works buildings, the sewage plant. I’m really looking forward to meeting more people in my town.”
Wickstrom – “I just wanted to open up by thanking the past council — I want to thank mayor Shirley Ackland for 10 years of service, I’ve served with her on council before, and I know that she loved her position and she worked very hard for this community. I’d also like to thank Aaron Frost, Graham MacDonald, and Jay Dixon as well for their services last term on council. I’m also looking forward to the months ahead, working with these people. I think that there’s a lot of things we think differently on, but there’s a lot of things we are aligned on, and one of those things is working together to better the community … I really do want to continue to hear from every one of you … My door will always be open, everybody knows I’m a collaborator, and I really do want to work together with people, organizations, and that is really what it is going to take to move this community forward.”