Pierceland election causes controversy
by Phil Ambroziak
You win some, you lose some.
In the case of newly elected Pierceland village councillor Mary Jane Harrison, however, both of these counts could soon prove to be true.
Harrison’s victory in the Oct. 24 municipal election is being contested by former councillor Bill Frolick because of the fact Harrison is not a resident of the Village of Pierceland. Although she has been heavily involved in the community for many years, Harrison actually lives in the nearby RM of Beaver River and, according to provincial law, a person must live in a particular community for three months or more before he or she is allowed to seek a position on municipal council.
“It will be contested,” Frolick confirmed. “I have to file an affidavit through the court system, and it will then be up to a judge to decide if she is eligible to hold the position or not.”
Frolick, who has served on council for 12 of the past 15 years, was narrowly defeated by Harrison for the final council seat by 13 votes. He received 115 votes to her 128 while other successful candidates included Don Sims (172 votes), Darcy Ford (168) and Richard Frey (147).
“Everyone was aware of this (Harrison’s place of residence) during the campaign, but from what I understand, our returning officer was told by election officials that Harrison’s nomination had to be accepted,” Frolick continued. “I believe, if you are going to run for council, you should have to live in the village like the law says. I don’t want people who don’t live in the village making decisions for the people who do. I also don’t want them making decisions on how to spend taxpayer dollars.”
Harrison does own property in the village, but according to the law this only allows her the ability to vote in village elections, not compete.
Harrison, who said she actually lives only 100 metres or so from the village border, said she was aware of the laws pertaining to her eligibility when she decided to come forward as a candidate.
“I checked with Municipal Affairs and about four or five different people informed me the onus would be on me if I chose to run,” Harrison said. “Yes, I knew it could be contested, but I still went forward on my own and I didn’t do so lightly.”
Harrison, who has been heavily involved in the Pierceland community in several capacities over the years, said she hoped to bring some of her experience and knowledge to the council table in an effort to better the community for those who call it home.
“I felt council was lacking a lot of expertise,” she said. “I checked with many people from both the village and RM and none of them seemed to have an issue with me running. I even put out a petition, which a lot of people signed, stating they supported my efforts.”
Harrison has a large amount of experience working with First Nations communities including the responsibility of being a financial administrator.
“I’ve also volunteered so much throughout the community,” she said. “I’ve been active with the housing authority, school board and recreation board.”
Pierceland mayor Jim Krushelnitzky would not comment on the matter at this time.
If a judge does not rule in Harrison’s favour, it is expected a by-election would be held to determine who would fill the vacant council seat.
“If they want to get rid of me, it’s their loss not mine,” Harrison said.