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Fernie elects Nic Milligan as mayor

Milligan defeats incumbent mayor Ange Qualizza
Nic Milligan with supporters the night of his victory in the race to be Fernie’s next mayor. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Fernie has elected political newcomer, Nic Milligan as mayor.

Milligan defeated incumbent mayor Ange Qualizza by a wide margin, 1,701-776.

“I’m super grateful to all the citizens of Fernie who voted overall,” said Milligan in his first public remarks following the result.

“All the things we said in the campaign in terms of open, engaged community government, that starts now.”

Milligan said he was pleased with the council result too, which will be made up of newcomers Harshan Ramadass, Tracey Audia Kelly and Ted Shoesmith, while all three incumbent councillors, Kevin McIsaac, Troy Nixon and Kyle Hamilton held onto their seats.

Milligan said that he had campaigned as ‘not a politician’, and that he was “not a politician now, but I very much look forward to working for the citizens of Fernie to make it a better place for everyone.”

First steps for Milligan will be working with the new council to open the doors to the city and make sure the community is engaged, and to take on some of the big issues facing the city.

“I want people to expect to participate in their local government, so we’re going to re-establish a bunch of committees, and continue with committees the previous council has already started.”

Milligan said he planned to have a town-hall event for engagement in the new year as part of that process.

He thanks outgoing mayor Ange Qualizza for her service, saying he was grateful for her efforts to lead the community and the city through rocky times.

“COVID wasn’t easy for anyone, and she lead council through that period… I’m grateful for her service.”

Qualizza said she was proud of the community for turning out to vote.

“I want to congratulate the next council and with them nothing but success,” she said.

“It has been a privilege serving as your mayor, and I’ll be cheering you on.”

Qualizza has served as mayor since 2018, and as a councillor since 2014. For the last two years she has served on the executive of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), and was recently acclaimed as Vice President at the UBCM conference in Whistler, a role she was expected to hold for the next year, if she was re-elected.

Now that she is no longer mayor of Fernie, she will lose that position, as executives of UBCM must be serving local politicians.

Looking to the council race, all three incumbents - Kevin McIsaac, Kyle Hamilton and Troy Nixon - were successful in their re-election attempts, coming in at third, fifth and sixth respectively.

Of the newcomers, Harshan Ramadass was the all-out favourite, securing the support of 68.8 percent of all voters and earning more votes that Nic Milligan did to win mayor.

Tracey Audia Kelly was successful in her second run for council, winning second place, while Ted Shoesmith came fourth.

Overall, turnout was significantly lower than 2018, with 2,485 voters out of a possible 4,552 turning out to cast a ballot – or 54.59 percent. In 2018, turnout was over 64 percent.

READ MORE: Fernie election: Coverage of candidates and questions
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