Local voters sent several messages during Wednesday night's civic by-election in Estevan.
They said they wanted a fresh face on council. They said they don't want a possible casino development, but they said yes to healthier teeth. And they seem to be pretty interested in the state of their community.
A total of 1,837 residents voted, a remarkable number for a by-election. The last by-election in 2005 attracted about 1,000 voters; the civic election in 2009 (when there wasn't a mayoral election) attracted 1,855 voters.
The voter turnout, coupled with the strong field of candidates, is an encouraging sign that residents are feeling engaged, and are interested in the electoral process.
The race for one vacant councillor seat on City Council drew a lot of interest. So did the casino vote.
Trevor Knibbs was elected to fill the vacancy. Knibbs has built up a strong profile in the community in the last few years, has run a successful business, and has been active and generous with many different causes. He should be an excellent addition to council.
Perhaps the only surprise is that his margin of victory was so large. He finished nearly 300 votes ahead of runner-up Marge Young in a five-candidate battle that many thought would be much closer.
The casino vote, meanwhile, showed the extent of the opposition to the project. Only 524 voters were in favour, while 1,297 were opposed. And based on the social media reaction after the vote, people from all demographics and backgrounds were against the project.
It doesn't necessarily mean anything - it'll be the Little Pine Casino and the provincial government who'll have the ultimate say on whether the project proceeds. But it has to be discouraging for Little Pine that so many local people panned the project.
Support for the continued use of fluoride in water was supported almost as strongly as the casino project was defeated. A total of 1,147 people supported fluoride, while 655 were opposed. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, but it is hazardous for staff to handle.
The casino and fluoride questions were non-binding, but both results sent council a pretty resounding message.
There was one development from the by-election that everyone should view as a positive: we didn't have to wait long for the results to come in. The AccuVote automated ballot system worked in spectacular fashion. The polls closed at 8 p.m. The results were known several minutes before 8:30.
The days of waiting several hours for results appear to be over.
And that's cause for everyone to be thankful.