Carol Hamilton will lead Colwood’s next council.
Voters ousted Colwood’s longest serving councillor, Ernie Robertson, who had served five terms, favouring instead newcomers Shari Lukens, Rob Martin and Teresa Harvey and incumbents Couns. Gordie Logan, Cynthia Day and Judith Cullington.
Much of the newly elected city council celebrated their success at Crossroads pub Saturday night, toasting their champaign glasses to what they promised would be a positive and welcoming council.
“This is the best group I could hope for,” four-term coun. Logan said, throwing his arms over the shoulders of his new colleagues. He and Day are now tied as the longest serving councillors.
Hamilton, however, was the centre of attention. After serving one term as councillor, she ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2008, coming in 300 votes behind Dave Saunders.
With Saunders stepping aside after a single term, Hamilton believes her commitment to serving multiple terms was a draw for voters.
“I think Colwood voted for consistency. They want somebody who’s going to be their mayor long term,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton beat Coun. Brian Tucknott by 370 votes, despite his promise for a zero tax increase. Former-councillor Jason Nault was a distant third in the mayoral race.
Mayor Saunders was at the pub to congratulate Hamilton. He said he’s eager to be free of the mayor’s duties at the beginning of December.
“I expect it will be a smooth transition,” Saunders said. “I think this is great for Colwood. The Hamiltons are a longtime family in the community and they’ve always been community-minded, just as the Saunders have.”
Saunders was mostly quiet during the lead up to the election. He didn’t endorse a candidate and was vacationing with his family in Mexico during the final week of the campaign.
But two days before the vote, he released a statement to media to refute claims made by some candidates regarding the City’s financial operations.
“The City is not operationally bankrupt as has been claimed,” he wrote in the statement, adding that City departments “most certainly aren’t overstaffed or overpaid.”
He didn’t name specific candidates in his release, but there was an unofficial slate of candidates who insisted the City’s finances were mismanaged. They included Couns. Tucknott and Robertson, and newcomers Rick McKay, Bill Wagner and Duane MacNeill—none of whom were elected. The only one elected from the group was Harvey, a first-time candidate.
The most popular vote for councillor was, surprisingly, a newcomer. Lukens, a former figure skater, had support of over 60 per cent of voters and came out 180 votes ahead of any incumbent.
Lukens credits long hours campaigning, saying she knocked on over 3,000 doors.
“My knuckles are raw and I need a new pair of shoes,” she joked. “I think this is going to be a great council to work with—it’s a good balance of experience and new energy.”
Martin, another newcomer, also took his seat by a healthy margin. He was the fourth chosen for six seats, collecting just a few more votes than coun. Cullington.
“It’s humbling,” Martin said. “I’m proud I won this with a positive campaign. …This is my first time running for office of any sort.”
Voter turnout in Colwood was 27 per cent, the same as the 2008 election. The inaugural meeting of the newly elected council is Dec. 5.
The unofficial vote count is as follows:
Colwood mayor candidates/votes:
Carol Hamilton – 1,412 (elected)
Brian Tucknott – 1,042
Jason Nault – 621
Colwood council candidates/votes:
Shari Lukens – 1,881
Gordie Logan – 1,701
Cynthia Day – 1,651
Rob Martin – 1,645
Judith Cullington – 1,629
Teresa Harvey – 1,490
Rick McKay – 1,368
Bill Wagner – 1,322
Ernie Robertson – 1,245
Duane MacNeill -811