As she held her left hand up to her ear on election night, Marianne Meed Ward was letting Burlingtonians know she intends to listen to them closely over the next term.
“Folks have been feeling ignored,” the mayor-elect said. “You can ignore people for four years, plus a day, but you can’t ignore them today.”
Councillor for Ward 2 for the past eight years, Meed Ward scored an impressive victory of almost 7,000 votes over incumbent Rick Goldring.
Meed Ward said she and her colleagues knocked on 14,000 doors during the campaign.
“I look forward to bringing the whole community together to foster diversity, respect and invite a vigorous exchange of ideas, but in a way that preserves everyone’s dignity, humanity and a little bit of kindness.”
Goldring congratulated her for running a masterful campaign.
“I think it’s development,” he said. “That’s the big issue. But I’m not hanging my head tonight.”
Former Burlington MP and city councillor Mike Wallace finished third in the race and Greg Woodruff a distant fourth.
“I would say this was the most competitive mayor’s race in Burlington in maybe decades,” Wallace said.
Meed Ward swept every poll in Wards 1, 2, 3 and 4. Goldring managed to come out on top in three of the four polls in each of Wards 5 and 6, in the east end of the city but it wasn’t nearly enough for him to mount a challenge.
During the campaign Meed Ward stressed the importance of restricting the height of new buildings downtown. In polls located north of the QEW, however, Goldring held an eight-vote advantage, 5,611 to 5,603.
And although she is bound to have more support in her effort for controlled development, Meed Ward must not lose sight of the fact more people voted against her than for her.
The mayor and new council will be sworn in on Dec. 3 at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.
Kelvin Galbraith has been chairman of the Aldershot Village BIA board for the last 11 years. Now he’s the new councillor for Ward 1, after finishing in front of 10 other candidates for the seat held since the year 2000 by Rick Craven, who is retiring from local politics.
“The heights of buildings should be restricted in the downtown and along main arteries like Plains Road,” Galbraith said. “”I’m okay with development around hubs like GO stations. I’m in favor of moderate development.
Galbraith said his role as business partner of a fitness gym on Plains Road will be a little more limited now that he is on city council.
The new councillor for Ward 2 Lisa Kearns said she took a leave of absence from her job as commodity manager for a medical company to campaign. She plans to go back to work until the inaugural council meeting on Dec. 3, then will concentrate full-time on being a councillor.
“I want to see residents at the forefront of the decision-making process and help shape a city we can all be proud of,” she said.
Kearns said she is completely independent of Meed Ward, but her philosophy of sensible, compatible growth with no undue pressure on infrastructure matches that of the
A Canadian foreign service officer, Rory Nisan will be on an extended leave without pay from his job with the federal government after defeating four other candidates in Ward 3 for the seat vacated by Councillor John Taylor, who is retiring after serving its constituents for 30 years.
“The main thing I want to focus on is development around the GO stations and to save downtown Burlington, especially along the lake,” he said.
A graduate of both Laurier and Carleton universities, he also attended Lester B. Pearson high school, which is due to close in 2019.
Worthy of note in the electorate’s desire for change is that neither Craven’s endorsement of Aldershot BIA executive director Judy Worsley in Ward 1 nor Taylor’s support for former sustainable development committee chair Gareth Williams in Ward 3 turned the tide.
Worsley placed second to Galbraith and Williams far back in second in Ward 3.
Shawna Stolte pulled off perhaps the biggest upset, unseating Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison, who had served on council since.1994.
Stolte said she will hand over the reins of a home-based business that aids seniors to focus on council work full-time. She has a real estate licence but says she hasn’t actively traded for a couple of years.
“I am not anti-development,” she said. “I favor lower, slower and greener growth. We need more affordable housing and I am not in favor of million-dollar condos in the downtown area.”
Paul Sharman was the lone incumbent councillor to hold his seat, warding off four challengers to begin his third term in Ward 5.
Angelo Bentivegna, who upset incumbent Blair Lancaster by just 39 votes in Ward 6, said he will be giving up 90 per cent of his participation in a family gift and gourmet business. He lost to Lancaster by 445 votes in his first attempt in 2014.
Bentivegna said he has attended more than 70 per cent of council and committee meetings over the last four years.
“The city needs to grow, but we need to stay within the boundaries of our official plan and zoning regulations,” he said. “We need to contain where and how we want to grow and the size we want to grow.”