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Essex’s low voter turnout opted for some change



by Sylene Argent

Though Essex will have a new mayor in place for the 2018-2022 term, many familiar faces are returning, according the unofficial results.

On Monday, Essex residents voiced who they wanted at the local municipal decision-making table. The results were announced later that evening, with many of the candidates opting to receive the results in person at the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201).

Larry Snively, a current Councillor, was elected as the new mayor. The unofficial result notes Snively earned 2,261 votes. Candidate Ron Rogers, also a current Ward 3 Councillor, followed closely behind with 2,144 votes. Rob Shepley earned support from 1,122, and Katie McGuire-Blais earned 1,358 votes.

Though Snively won the seat, and with a total of 6885 ballots casted in the mayoral bid, he earned less than 33 percent of voter support.

“I will move this municipality forward in a positive way,” Snively said, adding his platform included wanting to build a solid industrial tax base, which could contribute to implementing infrastructure.

“We have a very good elected Council that I see here, and working together and making positive moves for this municipality.”

Snively said having the new faces on Council is great. “The people spoke. They wanted change and they have change.”

Moving forward, Snively wants to meet with the members of the new Term of Council to get everyone’s ideas on the table before the first public meeting.    

The 2018 unofficial election results accounts for around 1000 voters less than what was casted in 2014 mayoral race.

Incumbent Richard Meloche was elected as Deputy Mayor. He earned 4,012 votes, defeating challenger Phil Pocock, who earned 2,737 votes.

“I’m feeling excited,” Meloche said, adding the major difference between this election and ones of the past was the number of houses he had to visit. This was the first time the Deputy Mayor position was elected at large as the current Term of Council opted to add an additional seat at the table.

Meloche said he and Snively share a lot of the same ideas for the Town. He also wants to get some industrial development going.

“I think we are going to have a good Council, Meloche said. “Based on who is sitting there right now, it is going to gel.”

Ward 1 (Essex Centre) will have two new Councillors in the next term of Council. Joe Garon and Morley Bowman (a former Essex Councillor), were elected with 1,570 and 1,062 votes respectively.

“It feels great to get back, really,” Bowman said. “I couldn’t be more happy with the results. I think we have a Council that will work well together,” he said.

Bowman said he worked really hard on his campaign, and was happy to see Garon get elected as well as he sees him as a “younger face with new ideas.”

Garon said he is excited to move forward. “I’m pleased. I had a lot of people pushing me to run in the first place and I’m happy that I came through for them.”

Part of Garon’s platformed focused on wanting to attract new industry and business. He also wants to see completion of the sports grounds, to be located across Highway # 3.

The Ward 1 results ousted current Councillor Randy Voakes, who earned 741 votes. Challengers Fred Groves and Tom Holland received support from 478 and 277 voters, respectively.  

“Randy Voakes worked hard,” Snively said. “Yes, everybody had their differences, but he did work hard.”

When the news of the Ward 1 results were announced, current Mayor Ron McDermott loudly provided three cheers of “Hip-Hip Hooray.”

“How am I feeling now? You know the big change everyone was looking for,” he claimed.

The outgoing Mayor, who decided to retire, said he will miss dealing with the public the most. He will still be around to do some committee work.

In 2014, 5,098 voteswere casted in the Ward One race, which is around 970 more votes casted than this year.

Kim Verbeek was successful in earning the position of Ward 2 (McGregor) Councillor with 803 votes. This was her second consecutive attempt at running for the position. Challengers Terry Brockman received support from 499 and Mark Williams received support from 71.

Verbeek said she worked really hard on her campaign. “What I am feeling right now is incredible gratitude,” she commented.

“The first [election in which I ran for Council] was certainly a building block.” She is looking forward to forming solid relationships with the rest of the incoming Term of Council.

Chris Vander Doelen earned the most votes in Ward 3 with 1,032. Steve Bjorkman, a current Councillor for Ward 1, earned the second position with 898 votes. Challenger Rodney Hammond was close behind with 843.  

Incumbent Sherry Bondy was re-elected to Ward 4 for a third term. She earned 843 votes, defeating challenger Paul Innes, who earned 238.

Of the eight seats on Essex Council, five of those elected have sat at the local municipal decision-making table previously.

Voter participation was low in the 2018 Essex Municipal Election as the overall turnout was 44.98%. The turnout was 46.52% in Ward 1, 44.43% in Ward 2, 40.58%, in Ward 3, and 52.54% in Ward 4.

To learn more about how Essex voted, log onto https://elections.essex.ca/en/results/results.aspx#


© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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