Jeff Acker wins council seat in Spruce Grove byelection

Acker takes top spot with 44.66% of the vote.

Spruce Grove's newest councillor will be a familiar face.
Jeff Acker won Wednesday night's byelection, finishing with just over 46% of the votes cast.
Acker served two terms as an alderman between 2007 and 2013, and described the emotions of coming out on top.

"Relief, excitement, humbled. Never been in a byelection before, and wasn't sure of how it would turn out. So our team just kept going, and worked the campaign, and went to doors, and spoke with people. And we're very happy with the results," he said.

Acker finished 274 votes ahead of runner-up Jan Gillett, and also beat out Sheri Ratsoy and Beverley Tyson.

He says community policing is at the top of his priority list, with many people concerned about increased crime in the city.

But he also says he'd like to deliver some feedback on the proposed arena project, and is confident he'll be able to do so before any plans go out to the public.

"The Sports and Entertainment complex is something that I've spoken to people at their doors, and there is not a lot of love for that idea. The concept hasn't been sold to the community, they aren't buying into the economic spin, and benefits that it might bring to our community, and the cost," he said.

"I just don't think it's the right time. So that's something I'll bring from what I'm hearing at the doors, and I'll share that with council for sure."

Acker also acknowledged that an advantage to the summer byelection is that the lightened council schedule will allow for an easier transition back into the routine, with budget deliberations still more than three months away.

The council seat became vacant following Searle Turton's resignation in May, after he was elected as Spruce Grove-Stony Plain's MLA in April's provincial election.

Unofficial totals calculated 2,437 votes cast, which is a voter turnout rate of roughly 10.1 percent.

Second place finisher Jan Gillett says she's feeling accomplished after bringing in 33% of the vote, and says she thinks Acker brings credibility.

"I'm excited for what's going to come up. I think he's going to bring some experience to the council, and hopefully they're going to seamlessly be able to pick up from here and move forward," she said.

"Even though I wasn't successful, I think I had a really strong showing. I think that I got my name out more in the community. Two years is a long time from now, so we'll have to see. But yeah, I plan to probably run again."

Sheri Ratsoy says there's big questions that'll need to be answered this year.

"Controlling the growth of the city - they're going to have to finalize that downtown redevelopment plan. I think the city's on the right track. I think there's definitely going to be some internal struggle with the council on the new proposed entertainment complex," she said.

Ratsoy says she's looking forward to another campaign as well.

"I am planning on running again in the next election, and feel like I really got a good solid foundation now on which to run a different campaign," she said.

Meanwhile, Beverley Tyson reflected on getting to know the community better during her run.

"It was really, really good. I really enjoyed being out there, and meeting and talking with people. I learned a lot - I learned a lot about myself and I learned quite a bit about Spruce Grove itself. Overall, I'd say it was really, really positive."

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