Solomon surprised, but ecstatic with Ward 8 by-election win

Darren Solomon speaks with Mayor Greg Dionne shortly after winning the Ward 8 By-Election on Wednesday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

School principal Darren Solomon led from the start to the finish and will now represent Ward 8 after winning the by-election to replace outgoing Coun. Ted Zurakowski on Wednesday.

Solomon collected the most advanced poll votes, the most mobile and mail-in votes, and the most Election Day votes, finishing with a total 214. Doug Erickson finished second with 177, Pamela Sukut came in third with 134, Peter Friedrichsen finished fourth with 89, and Dennis Nowoselsky finished fifth with 67.

All results are unofficial at this time.

“I’m ecstatic,” Solomon said after the results were released Wednesday evening at City Hall. “I’m a little surprised. It was a close race. I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to shake out with the five of us running and I’m pleasantly surprised.”

Solomon said he’s honoured to represent Ward 8, and thanked voters for having confidence in him. He said he’s a bit nervous about replacing Zurakowski, who was previously elected by acclimation.

“Every door I knocked on, Ted has done something for somebody in that ward,” Solomon said. “It’s big shoes to fill for sure and I’m going to do my best.”

Solomon said there was one common issue that came up when he was door-knocking during the campaign, and that’s going to be the first issue he tackles at City Hall. However, he declined to discuss it until he’s gathered more information.

Solomon added that he was glad to see so many candidates step up and run for council.

“What I’m hearing on the doorsteps is people are interested in what’s going on in the city and they’re really looking for leadership,” he said. “I’m so happy that we had such a great panel of folks who stepped up and wanted to be the next leader of the city, and I’m honoured to have that chance now.”

Mayor Greg Dionne was on hand Wednesday evening to speak with candidates prior to the results. Dionne congratulated Solomon on his win, but said he wished for a higher turnout. A total of 681 voters cast their ballots, but roughly 4,000 were eligible to do so.

“It still represents the ward. I would have liked to see it close to 1,500 more, but I’m happy,” Dionne said afterwards. “I’m very happy for all the candidates who ran. I want to thank them all because that shows they care about their community and want to work towards it.

“I’m looking forward to working with Darren and I’m quite sure things will work out because he represents the West Hill, which is a very positive community.”

If Dionne has his way, a new city councillor won’t be the only change at City Hall. Current nomination rules do not require a candidate to live in the Ward they are running in. They must only be a resident of the City of Prince Albert for at least three consecutive months, and within Saskatchewan for at least six consecutive months.

Dionne said it’s not uncommon for candidates to run in Ward they don’t live in, and pointed to his own start in municipal politics as an example. Dionne first ran for city council in Ward 2 before running for mayor, but didn’t live in the Ward at the time.

“My defence to that was, of course, I managed the mall (Gateway Mall) for 20 years, so it’s like I lived in the ward,” Dionn said. “That’s what I told people: I don’t live in the ward, but I’ve spent my whole life in the ward. I work seven days a week at the mall, and I’m there all the time.”

“I really do believe you have to live in the Ward that you run,” he added. “I don’t think that you should have people running from outside the Ward because the whole purpose of the Ward thing is to get representatives and give everyone equal opportunity to run.  That’s my only disappointment, and I’m working on that now with all the other city managers to get that corrected.”

Ward 8 By-Election Results

Total Votes (Election Day) (Mobile/Mail-in) (Advanced Poll):

Darren Solomon          214 (169) (10) (35)

Doug Erickson             177 (154) (2) (21)

Pamela Sukut 134 (98) (4) (32)

Peter Friedrichsen        89 (74) (2) (13)

Dennis Nowoselsky       67 (62) (0) (5)