May 28th, 2024

Hyggen wins narrow race for mayor


By Herald on October 19, 2021.

Blaine Hyggen celebrates as results come in showing his victory in the race for the mayor's seat during Monday's municipal election. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Popping the cork off a champagne bottle surrounded by a large vocal crowd of supporters, Blaine Hyggen celebrated his election as Lethbridge’s mayor Monday.

Hyggen eked out a 508-vote win over Bridget Mearns, winning the election 11,973 votes to 11,465. Hyggen took 42.79 per cent of the vote compared to Mearns’ 40.97.

Stephen Mogdan finished a distant third with 2,459 votes and 8.79 per cent of the popular vote while Sheldon Day Chief captured 1,079 votes and 3.86 per cent of the popular vote. Gary Klassen trailed with 687 votes while Kolton Menzak finished last in polling with 321 votes.

Results were delayed about an hour due to people still in line casting votes with the first tallies showing up on the city’s website just after 9 p.m. Before the final poll numbers were released, Honkers Pub on the Northside erupted into song and early celebration with friends and supporters hugging and congratulating Hyggen.

“I’m proud of my team. This wasn’t a me, it was a we, that made this happen and I’m so grateful for that,” said Hyggen.

“It was a nail biter,” Hyggen said of the results from the advance polls.

“And then from that point, it worked out fortunately in my favour,” Hyggen said, adding he’s looking forward to connecting with all the city councillors.

“Let’s get rolling,” Hyggen added.

Hyggen was full of praise for his team and campaign manager Dale Zielke.

“I can’t thank Dale enough. He’s just been a force for me, he’s the one who keeps me going at four in the morning when we’re out there doing signs and stuff and he’s pushed me and that’s what I needed and it was great, he said.

“I could not do it without my team, that’s for sure. It’s been hectic and full tilt. We haven’t taken the pedal off the metal the whole time,” he said,

“People are engaged out there,” he said of the delay as residents still cast their votes.

He called the advance poll numbers “fantastic.”

“I feel like we ran a great campaign, I don’t believe we left anything on the table and that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to get to the end and not think I wish I would have. And I believe our team did everything we could to get to that point,” Hyggen said.

“I feel confident that we will have good governance coming up here.”

While Hyggen’s supporters were exuberant and loud before results began coming in, Mearns had a smaller, more subdued crowd at the Owl Acoustic Lounge where results were shown on a big screen in the darkened lounge.

Making her first run for election as mayor since 2013 when she finished second to Chris Spearman, the two-time former city councillor said while results rolled in she was glad the campaign was over.

“It’s exciting but it’s also draining and so it’s good to be finally here, said Mearns, whose last stint on city council was in 2013 when she won a seat in a by-election after the death of Wade Galloway in an avalanche at Waterton left a seat vacant.

In his campaign, Hyggen focused on three platform pillars including safety, economy and fiscal responsibility.

He’s an advocate for reinvesting in the Lethbridge Police Service, supports the construction of a third bridge and wants to develop efficiencies to lower taxes, among other initiatives.

In his platform, Hyggen said he will be an advocate to restore the police budge that was cut in 2020 and to implement strategies being developed by the LPS.

Hyggen also wants to make Lethbridge more desirable for doctors and to accomplish that he said in his platform a stakeholder committee will be developed to produce and oversee stategies for doctor attraction and retention.

He also wants to improve the quality of the city transit system while reducing its impact on the environment and budget.

In his platform, he stated his belief that the key to restoring downtown is to restore safety of the community, supporting the local economy, managing municipal infrastructure and resources and continuing to advocate for housing for the city’’s homeless population and recovery options for addicts.

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