Sunday, November 16, 2008

Podunk picks its leaders

It was another long night for the vote counters as candidates Don Scott and Jack Mussallem provided for a rather close horse race for the Mayoralty of Prince Rupert, with Mr. Mussallem only securing his victory late in the evening.

For most of the night the two were fairly close in the cote totals, Mussallem finally pulling ahead midway through the evening, never quite out of reach but never giving up much in the way of ground. It was in the final hour or so of the count that he really seemed to pull away from his challenger, finishing off with a 192 vote lead, receiving 53% of the vote compared to 47 for Mr. Scott.

The new Mayor (who last served as the city’s head back in 1996-99) will have an interesting mix of councillors to work with on Third Avenue when the city meets in the first session in December.

The 2008 election returned four incumbents to Prince Rupert city council, while adding two new voices to the six representatives that will watch over the city’s finances and development in the next three years.

Council chambers will be defintely be full of estrogen as five of the six councilors elected to their posts on Saturday night are women, only Nelson Kinney held the gender line for the men, attracting the largest vote count of the night at 1892 votes cast.

Joining Mr. Kinney in the council chambers for the next three years will be returning incumbents Joy Thorkelson, Sheila Gordon-Payne and Kathy Bedard, Thorkelson and Gordon-Payne both also collected over 1800 votes on their way to electoral success on Saturday.

Rounding out the civic six will be newcomers Anna Ashley and Gina Garon, the latter having edged out long time councilor Tony Briglio by 53 votes to claim the final spot on council.

The composition of the new council will make for an interesting mix; we have the two longest serving councilors in Kinney and Bedard who have apparently a solid constituency who find benefit in their service. The two candidates of change from the last election Thorkelson and Gordon-Payne are back as well, perhaps a reward for their refreshing change of the discussion at times in Council chambers; reflective of the interests of the voters they found favour with three years ago.

A similar wind blew through the chambers with the newest arrivals on the political scene, as both Anna Ashley and Gina Garon; found their profiles lifted over the summer months as the City Hall hiring tempest flared up. The challenge for them now, will be to show residents that they are more than one dimensional when it comes to what they will bring to the debate when council resumes in December.

With one exception that is for the most part the line up we suspected would end up serving the next three year term when we looked over our pre election forecast. We will however admit to surprise at the return to office of Ms. Bedard, we have apparently underestimated her cache with local residents who found something about her campaign that they favoured. Likewise, we thought that newcomer Erika Rolston would see a breakthrough in her bid for office, but as the results have shown she came up short for the second election in a row.

The story of the election may however be the low turn out of voters, with 9147 eligible voters on the list, only 3776 made it out to vote, a percentage of only 41 per cent, even lower than the woeful turnout for the recent federal election.

For whatever reason, there was a rather stark disconnect in this election, the majority of the city’s population choosing to find other things to do on a Saturday other than take part in the democratic process and cast a ballot. The totals leave many questions as to how to get the population more involved and less cynical about the process.

For all the candidates it made for a fascinating month and a bit, new faces many providing new ideas, others rehashing much of the same options that they have in the past. As the totals reflect the voters took a little from column A, and a little from column B.

To all that stood for office there should be a collective thank you, it’s never easy to put ones name on the line, tempting defeat and disappointment. For the victors, they now realize that old axiom “Be careful what you wish for” comes to mind.

Now that they’ve successfully reached the council table, the time will soon be at hand to make tough decisions and offer up options to the public (those at least that still seem interested in what happens on Third Avenue).

Hopefully the much discussed and trumpeted ideal of transparency and accountability will once again remain in the forefront, with a little more success we all hope than in the past.

Below the final results (unofficial as the caveat goes from City Hall until November 19 at 4pm)

Prince Rupert Mayoralty

MUSSALLEM, Jack 1838
SCOTT, Don 1646

City Council

KINNEY, Nelson 1892
GARON, Gina 1418
BRIGLIO, Antonio 1365
ROLSTON, Erika 967
CASTELLI, Mario 960
PURDY, John 884
GREENE, Paddy 821
SAMPSPON, George 730
MCLEAN, Gabe 587
News and discussion articles on the election
Hackingthemainframe-- Election results

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