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  • Writer's pictureHunter Cresswell

Every vote counts

Only three votes decided close Low council race

When people say, “Every vote counts,” they really mean it.

Locally, that saying is best exemplified in the race to fill the third seat on the township of Low’s council. Just three votes separate the two candidates.

“It was a squeaker,” newly-elected Low councillor Maureen McEvoy said about her win.

According to Élections Québec preliminary results, McEvoy received 189 votes and her opponent, Low firefighter and first responder Andrew Wilson, received 186 votes.

“Every vote counts and it becomes very concrete and clear in a situation like this. Vote turnout matters,” McEvoy said.

Low Seat 3 councillor Maureen McEvoy and her sidekick, Clover. McEvoy was elected by a margin of three votes during the Nov. 7 municipal election. Sue Mills photo
Low Seat 3 councillor Maureen McEvoy and her sidekick, Clover. McEvoy was elected by a margin of three votes during the Nov. 7 municipal election. Sue Mills photo

Wilson thanked the election staff for their professional and accurate work.

“186 people voted for me. Even though I lost the vote, I want the community to know that I’m still going to work for them as a firefighter and first responder,” he said. “All the candidates were really capable and I think the voters had a hard choice.

Low has a total population of 982, according to the Statistics Canada 2016 census. Only 375 people voted for a Low Seat 3 candidate. Low council seats are elected at large rather than by ward, so each resident gets to vote for each candidate. Had all registered voters in Low come to the polls on Nov. 7, the results could have been much different.

“It’s really too bad [so few voted] because it’s at the municipal level that decisions get made that affect everyday life,” McEvoy said.

McEvoy will replace Anne Bélisle, co-owner of the Chemin Martindale alpaca farm Les Alpagas du Manitou. Bélisle ran unopposed and was elected by acclamation during a June 2019 byelection, which was held to replace councillor Lucie Cousineau who resigned her seat in March 2019. Bélisle did not seek reelection.

McEvoy spent the day after the election “celebrating” her win at the Venosta train station while preparing drywall for painting. Youth group Be & Become is in the process of turning the former station building into a youth centre and café.

McEvoy, a retired communications manager, has been cottaging in Low since 1965 but moved to Low full time 10 years ago. She said that people may recognize her from volunteering for Be & Become, the Stag Creek Bridge committee, and the St. Michael’s High School Foundation.

“I think of it as a form of community service,” McEvoy said when asked why she decided to run.

“My personal interest is in culture, recreation, and social support for the community,” she said when asked about her priorities on council.

But the immediate files the council must deal with are passing a 2022 budget and resolving issues with the garbage collection, McEvoy said.

She said that she’d like to use her communications expertise during her time on council.

“Communication is two-way and I really think I can help council and staff keep the whole community informed about what’s going on,” McEvoy said.

This will be her first time serving on municipal council.

This wasn’t the only close election in the Gatineau Hills. The race between La Pêche council Ward 1 candidates came down to just two votes with Daniel Meunier squeaking by Daniel Laflèche. Denholm council Seat 6 candidate Paulette Lemieux beat Laetitia Béguin by just eight votes. In Cantley, Jean-Charles Lalonde defeated incumbent Louis Simon Joanisse by just 10 votes to represent District des Érables on council. Kazabazua Mayor Robert Bergeron and Seat 4 councillor Sylvain La France’s reelections were both also decided by just 10 votes.

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