In 2016 there were four candidates for mayor. While they might have different visions for how the city should be led, they did have something in common, three of the candidates were bald, and the remaining candidate had very short hair.
This was not a big surprise, since they all looked a lot like the majority of mayors in the city’s history. If you look at the past mayors of Yorkton, going back to 1900, there is a distinct type of man taking control of the city in the vast majority of years. Yorkton likes its mayors to have as little hair as possible. This means that the 2020 mayoral race is also going to be a unique one in the city’s history.
There is an open question as to whether or not this is due to Yorkton voters overwhelmingly preferring the bald to be leaders, or if bald Yorkton men are drawn to the mayor’s chair. I think it’s the latter, because council itself tends to be extremely varied in the amount of hair which they happen to have, and there have been all manner of haircuts in other elected positions. But if you take a look at the portraits of Yorkton mayors through history, you’re not going to see much hair at all.
There are exceptions to this rule. Brian Fromm, for example, was blessed with not only an ample head of hair but a full beard, and was far and away the hairiest man to ever lead the city. Him included, I counted five mayors who definitely had a full head of hair. Three or four are debatable, with hair either thinning or being grey enough it’s hard to tell whether it’s full coverage or not. One is wearing a hat in his official portrait, making it impossible to tell. But the overwhelming majority are clearly bald. Even the mayors with hair tend to keep it closely cropped, and the three mayors with the fullest head of hair - Fromm, J.A.M Patrick and Robert Barbour - styled it to keep it well clear of their foreheads.
What does it mean for the current candidates?
Aaron Kienle certainly has a full head of hair, but he’s actually not too far off of the cut Patrick once had. When he was initially voted onto council four years ago, he had very long hair, though he got it cut off for a good cause as part of a Brayden Ottenbreit’s Close Cuts for Cancer event - a change so dramatic it was difficult to recognize him for several weeks after. Maintaining the new, short-cropped look could have been a sign that he had ambitions for the mayor’s seat.
Mitch Hippsley, meanwhile, hasn’t done anything so dramatic, and as a result if elected he would easily have the longest hair of any mayor in Yorkton’s history by a wide margin. Is Yorkton ready or willing to vote for so much hair?
What’s interesting is that this mayoral race actually stands as a bit of a contrast to previous ones in the city, for flowing locks were a trademark of both men in 2016. No matter who wins, there is a photograph of them in City Hall with very long hair. That will actually be a first for the City of Yorkton, even if Kienle no longer possesses long hair.
This is the first time since 2009 that the ballot for Mayor will not have a bald option. Back then, while it was a close race, the person who won - James Wilson - happened to have the least hair of the two.
Which is not to say Yorkton always picks the person with the least amount of hair total. In 2016, the natural male-pattern baldness of Bob Maloney squeaked out a narrow victory over the completely shaved Chris Wyatt.
Could Yorkton now be alternating between mayors with hair and mayors without, like how they pick leaders in Russia? Will the next 20 years represent a new look for Yorkton? It remains to be seen whether this is an anomaly or a new, hairier normal.