Avis elected mayor in landslide

FORT FRANCES—Coun. Roy Avis will be the next mayor of Fort Frances after he soundly defeated incumbent Dan Onichuk by about a two-thirds margin in Monday’s municipal election.
Avis ended up with 2,325 votes to 1,140 for Onichuk.
“I was very happy that the electorate put their faith in me for the next four years,” Avis said shortly after the election results were revealed at the Civic Centre on Monday night.
“I’m looking forward to working for them,” he added. “As I said in my campaign, give me the challenge and I’ll make sure I fulfill the obligations.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the mandate they’ve given me tonight will be fulfilled.”
Avis also said he’s looking forward to working with the mix of new and experienced councillors elected by the voters of Fort Frances on Monday.
“As I said in my campaign, we’ve got to build a team. Whether it was the old council or the new council, we’ve got to work together and build a team that’s favourable to everybody concerned,” Avis stressed.
“I think it will be great to work with them.”
Onichuk, who stopped by the Civic Centre shortly after 8 p.m. to see the results come in, said he was “disappointed with the result.”
“Obviously, the message never got through,” he remarked.
“I congratulate Mr. Avis on his win,” Onichuk added. “I’ve enjoyed the last three years. It’s come with a lot of sacrifice, but I still have all my hair and it’s not gray yet.
“I came back home here with family to retire, and I might be around for a long time.
“We’ve got a new mix of council,” he continued. “I think there’s some positive in there and, admittedly, some negative, too.
“I thank the people who voted for me and supported me all these years, and I obviously wish the town the best going into the future,” Onichuk remarked. “I don’t plan on going anywhere. I’ll be around. And I’m sure you’ll hear from me now and then.”
When asked if his name may appear on the municipal ballot in another four years, Onichuk replied: “Never say never. That’s my rule.”
Former councillor Sharon Tibbs, who lost the mayor’s race in 2003 to Onichuk, garnered the most votes among the 11 candidates vying for the six seat on Fort Frances council with 1,956.
Close behind her was incumbent councillor Tannis Drysdale (1,934), newcomer G. Paul Ryan (1,866), incumbents John Albanese (1,846) and Rick Wiedenhoeft (1,742), and newcomer Andrew Hallikas (1,718).
Failing in their council bids were Ken Perry (1,593), incumbent Todd Hamilton (1,552), former councillors and mayoral candidates Allan T. Bedard (1,389) and Nick Wihnan (1,355), and incumbent Neil Kabel (1,285).
In the race for the three Fort Frances seats on the Northwest Catholic District School Board, it appears incumbents Ann-Marie Fitzgerald and Harold Huntley were re-elected along with newcomer Paul Cousineau.
Incumbent chairman Gerry Rousseau was well back after the Fort Frances votes were tallied Monday night.
But the outcome wasn’t official as of press time Tuesday since returning officer Glenn Treftlin still was getting the results from Alberton, La Vallee, and the unincorporated areas that morning.
He hoped to release the official tally by Tuesday afternoon.
A total of 3,515 ballots were cast in the Fort Frances election. Given there was a total of 6,303 eligible voters, that translated into a 55.77 percent turnout
An estimated 196 ballots were spoiled, comprising 5.576 percent of the total ballots received.
Of the ballots cast for mayor, two showed votes for both candidates while 48 showed votes for neither one.
Of the ballots cast for the council candidates, 66 showed votes for more than six candidates while 2,788 had fewer than six candidates chosen.
For the Northwest Catholic District School Board, 399 of the ballots were “under votes,” meaning 399 electors voted for fewer than three trustees.
Editor’s note: The numbers in this article were unofficial as of press time Tuesday. Treftlin said he would have the official numbers ready for release by the afternoon.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)