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Selkirk gets new mayor in major upset

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David Bell can say he’s seen life from both sides now.

The psychiatric nurse at Selkirk Mental Health Centre, who pulled one of the biggest election upsets in 2002 to become Selkirk’s mayor, had the tables turned on him Wednesday night.

Bell was bounced by local grocery store manager Larry Johannson.

People thought it would be close. Johannson, an assistant manager in the local Safeway store, is a popular man in Selkirk.

But the size of the majority caught people off guard. Johannson won by a 1,600 margin with over 2,500 votes.

"I don’t think anyone expected those numbers," said Darlene Swiderski, who was elected councilor Wednesday night and who supported Johannson.

"Larry’s a really good people person. I worked with him at Safeway for 27 years....He’s very likeable," she said.

"I’m having the day of my life," said Johannson, when reached by phone Thursday.

Johannson was first elected councilor four years ago. He became chairman of a committee to bring development to Selkirk. One thing the city lacks is a major hotel. Under Johannson’s leadership, a company has now purchased land with the intent of putting accommodations in Selkirk.

Bell became the city’s mayor when he defeated incumbent Selkirk mayor Bud Oliver.

There were a number of new faces elected in rural elections around the province.

Morden incumbent mayor Doug Wilson lost in a squeaker to Ken Wiebe. Meanwhile, controversial reeve of La Broquerie, Marielle Wiebe, tasted defeat to Claude Lussier.

Herm Martens, the outspoken reeve for the RM of Morris, didn’t run this time. His replacement is his longtime sidekick, Ralph Groening.

Bruce Henley is the new reeve of West St. Paul, a municipality where none of the old guard ran again after battling floods in recent springs. The entire reeve and council for the RM of Gimli also declined to run. The new mayor there is Lynn Greenberg.

 

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

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