Strong desire for change in Neepawa


New mayor, four new councilors elected

By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

Neepawa has opted to make some significant changes around the municipal council table, including at the position of mayor.  On Wednesday, Oct. 24, Blake McCutcheon defeated Adrian de Groot in the mayoral race. McCutcheon won the community’s top job with 952 votes, while de Groot garnered 283.

As for the council, newcomers Brian Hedley, Darren Pudlo, Jason Nadeau and Marijka Kostenchuk have been elected, while Darryl Gerrard and Murray Parrott were the only incumbents to retain their seats. In total, 1,243 out of a potential 2,256 eligible voters participated in the election, an impressive 55.1 per cent turn-out rate. 

McCutcheon thankful for the support

After taking a few days to reflect upon the election and to attend to an unexpected family emergency, incoming mayor Blake McCutcheon sat down and spoke with the Neepawa Banner & Press. The first thing he did was thank the public for their overwhelming vote of confidence.

“I was surprised at the vote, I admit that. It was a tremendous number of people involved, which is something you like to see in a community. I was very pleased with the support I received in this campaign. I think what the people of Neepawa were saying with this vote, was that they believe it’s time for a new direction. I think they’re looking for more engagement from their mayor and council. That’s why [the voters] made the decision to alter council in this particular way,” said McCutcheon. “The voters decided that they wanted change and have followed through with four new people elected. At the same time, there are two incumbents that are returning. I respect what they’ve done on the council and I am looking forward to working with them. Looking forward to working with everyone.”

Though they were on opposing sides of the ballot, McCutcheon was also quick to acknowledge and thank his opponent, Adrian de Groot for representing the community in a thoughtful and respectful manner over the past four years. 

“I definitely want to thank Adrian for serving for the last four years. Anyone who is willing to step up and commit several years out of their lives to representing the public and their community should be respected and commended. To the outgoing councilors as well, thank you for your service and commitment.”

De Groot reflects on term

As for outgoing mayor Adrian de Groot, he did express some personal disappointment in the final results but added that he respected the decision of the voters and their participation in the democratic process. He also said that proud to have been able to serve as a representative for the community over the past four years. 

“I’m pleased with what [He and the outgoing council] were able to accomplish over the past four years. Everyone worked hard for this community with its best interest in mind. We cleaned up the policies and procedures connected to council and administration and made progress on several significant projects that’ll have some long-term benefits for the community. I feel as though we were able to raise the profile of the town of Neepawa and move it ahead in the right direction,” said de Groot.

Swearing in ceremony

For McCutcheon and the new town council, there is not much time to reflect upon the victory, as they were all officially sworn in on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7; 00 p.m. and then immediately go to work with their first their first formal meeting.