With a new mayor and four new councillors there’s been quite a shakeup at city hall after the Nov. 15 municipal election.
Former Alberni District Secondary School principal Mike Ruttan beat out former mayor John Douglas with 1891 votes compared to Douglas’ 1460. Former city councillor Cindy Solda came in third with 874 votes, followed by Kevin Wright with 776, former councillor Hira Chopra with 492, Maurice Chopin with 414 and Jacques Savard with 80.
The new city council will start their term with strong support from residents, with even the top four new councillors getting more votes each than any of the mayoral candidates. For the six new city councillors, the votes came in as:
• Denis Sauvé – 2748
• Dan Washington (incumbent) – 2366
• Sharie Minions (Alberni First) – 2159
• Ron Paulson (Alberni First) – 2137
• Jack McLeman (incumbent, Alberni First) – 2137
• Chris Alemany rounded out the top six with 1679.
Of the 16 that didn’t make the cut, the votes came in as:
• Wendy Kerr – 1598
• Penny Cote – 1527
• Annette Clement – 1450
• Bill Randles – 1390
• Seva Dhaliwal – 1294
• James Edwards (Alberni First) – 1271
• Ted McGill – 1051
• Monty Mearns – 998
• Pat Kermeen – 986
• Ian Thomas – 976
• Paul Pley – 953
• Charles Thomas – 832
• Malcolm Menninga – 793
• Deanna Shanley – 665
• Richard Muller – 409
• David Tisdale – 344.
“It feels good,” Ruttan said. “My campaign team worked incredibly hard and I’m happy with the way it turned out,” Ruttan said.
“It’s a strong mandate for me as new mayor. People are definitely looking for a change, but not completely because we do have two returning councillors. But I think it’s a good result; a balanced result.”
Ruttan said he is confident the new group will be able to work together, and that having two experienced councillors in Washington and McLeman is positive.
“We can work together well as a new council. There’s things we’re going to have to do in terms of common agreements and refocusing on city priorities. There’s going to have to be some work done on where the city’s budget is sitting.”
Incumbent Dan Washington said he felt good about the new council.
“I’m looking forward to forming a team with strong leadership, hopefully we can get things moving in Port Alberni.”
Washington is hopeful that the new council won’t inherit any of the issues of the past one.
“We were branded the dysfunctional council and once you get that branding it’s like the Orange Bridge, you can’t change it.
“I think now that with a new group in there, I’m looking forward to it. I think the leadership’s there, I think we can start fresh.”
Sauvé said people in Port Alberni “pretty much voted for trust and accountability. This is what we have to ensure we give them.”
Incumbent Jack McLeman said he “was very pleased to be re-elected. “There are six people there, six votes plus the mayor so that’s seven and I get one of them… I was very pleased to see three out of four Alberni First get elected [and] we’ll be working with all the other councillors.”
Minions was happy to hear who was elected. “I think it’s a really good mix. I’ve talked a lot about us needing a diverse council…I think that’s what we’ve got,” she said.
Paulson said he is excited to work with this council. “
We’ve got a good group of people there, all there for the right reasons as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Alemany said that he felt honoured to be elected.
“I’m excited to get started with the new council, I think it’s going to be really good. I think that the message was really clear…from the public, that they wanted a council that could work together.”
Voters in Port Alberni were also eligible to vote on whether or not they wanted a 10th Avenue crossing, but they turned it down by nearly 1,000 votes (3,389 against and 2,388 in favour).
Regional district voters kept most of their incumbents, with John McNabb beating Patty Edwards to retain his seat in Beaver Creek and Lucas Banton beating Dennis Dalla-Vicenza in Cherry Creek. In Bamfield, Keith Wyton beat out incumbent Eric Geall.
Voters in both the city and the regional district also had the opportunity to vote on whether or not they wanted to switch the Sproat Lake Marine Patrol to a service that all voters in the regional district and city would pay into rather than a grant based service. 73.5 per cent of voters voted in favour of establishing the service.