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The Town of Kindersley’s current deputy mayor, Ken Francis, has won a contested nomination to be the Saskatchewan Party’s candidate for the Kindersley byelection.
A nomination meeting was held at the Kindersley Mall in the space formerly occupied by Home Hardware. More than 600 Saskatchewan Party members turned out to vote for six candidates in the running, and Francis won after a preferential ballot.
The six candidates vying for the nomination were Francis, a land agent from Kindersley; Joseph Chiliak, a farm labourer from Alsask; Tom Geiger, a funeral home manager from Kindersley; Isabelle Ryde, a farmer from Eston,; Jeremy Welter, a farmer from Kerrobert; and Darwin Whitfield, a retired farmer from Coleville.
Only Sask. Party members in good standing who live in the Kindersley constituency could vote. The members received their ballots when they registered to vote. Each of the six candidates was given 10 minutes to speak before members filled out their ballots.
There was also a guest speaker at the nomination meeting. James Thorsteinson, president of the Sask. Party, spoke to the crowd while the ballots were being counted. Two of the party’s caucus members, Ken Cheveldayoff and Jim Reiter, were also in attendance.
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Voters were asked to rank the candidates from their first choice to their sixth choice. Results of the voting were not available to the public beyond the fact that Francis won.
Tammy Anderson-Jackson, the chairperson for the meeting, announced the winner to the members. A huge roar was heard from the section of the crowd where Francis, his family and other supporters were sitting.
Francis gave a brief victory speech.
Francis said due to time restraints, he didn’t get to cover all of his talking points when he spoke to the crowd earlier in the evening. He said the well-attended nomination meeting, along with choosing the next Sask. Party representative in Kindersley, was important.
The candidate, who hopes to replace Bill Boyd as a Sask. Party MLA for Kindersley, thanked the party’s members for coming out in force to help with the process. He said it was a great turnout and he encouraged members to give themselves a round of applause. He congratulated the other candidates for stepping up to the plate.
“No matter how it turned out for us individually, we’re all winners for having stepped up for the betterment of the party and the province,” said Francis, who gave thanks to the other candidates for being part of the process.
He noted that he is ecstatic to be part of the Sask. Party, and he is proud to be part of the renewal of the party, a process that would soon include a new leader and premier. He said now more than ever, the party needs to form a strong government.
Francis said he wanted to thank his family, his campaign team and his supporters. He pointed out that the process has been great for the party’s membership. The constituency had fewer than 300 members before the process began, and now there are nearly 1,200 members in the Kindersley constituency.
In an interview, he said his campaign to become a council member in Kindersley was his first taste of being part of an election process, so it was still new to him. He noted that with nomination processes, it’s hard for candidates to measure their success against one another.
“I had a very passionate team behind me and we really hit it hard the first weeks of the campaign,” Francis said, noting that the main push for him and his team came early in the month of November. “We got 600 people to say they would vote for us.”
He noted that his goal was to get half of his supporters out for the meeting, and he was able to get the support he needed. The candidate said he has one more hurdle to overcome with a byelection around the corner.
Francis said the whole process is still new to him, so he has a steep learning curve ahead. He added that he has a strong background in dispute resolution that should help him if he is elected as the next Kindersley MLA.
Dates for the byelection have yet to be announced, but Kindersley will have to replace the council member if Francis is elected.