Most of New Brunswick heads to the polls Monday in municipal elections that were delayed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results from the election, however, will not be known for another two weeks.
In Saint John, four candidates are vying for the city’s top chair after Mayor Don Darling opted not to run again following an extended, five-year single term.
There are 47 candidates for 10 council seats: two each in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and at large.
Ward 1 hopeful Richard Lee is no stranger to municipal politics despite participating in his first campaign as a candidate. Lee’s partner, Shelley Rinehart, is a former deputy mayor in Saint John.
Lee said he had to get creative to campaign in a pandemic.
“I call it the touchless campaign,” Lee said. “We’ve done signage, we’ve done social media, we did a mailout. We’ve done drive-thru, meet-the-candidate sessions, socially-distanced of course.”
Lee said it was a more expensive campaign than he had initially budgeted for because the pandemic made it more difficult to meet people in person.
Gina Hooley, a Ward 4 candidate, also noted the pricey nature of the campaign.
She said a planned mailout through Canada Post had to instead be hand-delivered due to COVID-19-related delays.
Still, she said the experience alone has been worth putting her name forward.
I would highly recommend that, if this is a passion or an itch, that you must scratch it,” Hooley said. “What we learn and do today is going to be with us for life and I’ve met some pretty amazing people along the way. Some of the fellow candidates that are running for the seat that I’m running for, you know, and now I feel like I’ve made life-long friends.”
Results will not be announced Monday because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Edmundston and Upper Madawaska regions, which has delayed in-person voting there until May 25.
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New Brunswick Chief Electoral Officer Kim Poffenroth said vote tabulation machines will be packed up after Monday’s polls close and shipped to Fredericton, where they will be held in a secure location.
She said officials will begin extracting results May 25.
“We’ll begin in the morning, and all of that process will be live-streamed for anyone who wants to watch it,” Poffenroth said.
“And then when the polls close in Edmundston, we’ll then publish the results for the entire province. So, people won’t see that sort of gradual releasing of results the way you would normally see on election night.”
Poffenroth said there are voting options for people in self-isolation and modified self-isolation. Those individuals are asked to contact their local returning office to iron out voting plans.