For Greg Gardner, the wait is over, and the mayoral gavel is his to swing. For the 18 candidates who ran for Squamish council, an uncertain and sometimes exhausting race has come to a close, with tight results and significant changes to chamber composition.
Of the four incumbents running for Squamish council, only Patricia Heintzman and Corinne Lonsdale won their seats back, with the former raking in 2,260 votes for a fourth place finish, while the latter collected 2,458 to end up in second place. Both councillors said they’d continue with the priorities they embodied in the previous term, primarily jobs for Lonsdale and the environment for Heintzman.
First place went to retired lawyer Doug Race, who, though previously active in local politics as Gardner’s 2006 councillor campaign manager, had never run before. He scored 2,625 votes.
“That was a surprise for me,” he said during a victory celebration at Rockwell’s.
As with many of the victors, Race said he would wait until December — when the new team meets to hash out term priorities — before deciding how to move ahead.
After two unsuccessful efforts, Bryan Raiser nailed a third place finish with 2,297 votes. Rob Kirkham came in fifth with 1,988, and Paul Lalli returns to the chamber with 1,731.
“What I want to do with my platform agenda is to bring them to the table,” said an ebullient Lalli. “I know the mayor-elect has talked about the committee system, and I want to address them through that system.”
Gardner’s mayoral victory was massive in scope, with 3,557 votes to Terrill Patterson’s 715 and John Erickson’s 146.
“The people, generally speaking, are none too bright in Squamish,” said Patterson. “Never have been, never will be.”
Incumbent Mike Jenson was edged by Lalli by a margin of 55 votes. Visibly deflated, Jenson offered little as to his future plans, saying only that he was headed into a vacation and would set new community goals afterwards.
Incumbent Jeff McKenzie was also stripped of his seat. He finished with 1,474 votes, behind Catherine Jackson, who came in eighth with 1,614. “It’s a win if it’s a win,” McKenzie said, “and it’s a win if it’s a lose. I’ll still support the things I support.”
During celebrations at Rockwell, Gardner surrounded himself with supporters and family, including his father, a former mayor of Hope. Kirkham and Race were there, and Patterson, who fingered those men as running a slate helmed by Gardner, didn’t let up on his accusations.
“It’s as clear as icing on a cake,” he said.
For Kirkham, those accusations have become tired. He said local media has jumped all over the story, often times without collecting his opinions and insights.
“It’s not a very big town,” said Kirkham. “If you’re going to be involved, then you’re going to run into other people that are involved.”
Viewed as the money guy, Kirkham said his first order of business will be preparing for the budget, a role he’s comfortable with thanks to his career as a banker.
With only Lonsdale and Heintzman returning to their councillor seats, a significant shift has occurred. Just the same, Gardner, who has tweaked his business structure in order to free up time needed for mayoral responsibilities, said change will not happen immediately. Further, he’s waiting until the December meeting before highlighting priorities.
“I don’t think we’ll see radical change,” he said, “especially not immediately. The gradual evolution of a community is a good thing, and it’s a positive thing.”
Regarding the December meeting, Gardner said staff will most likely remain unchanged. Discussions will focus on governance.
Voter turnout was 4,629 of 11,040 eligible voters. There were 446 new voters.
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