An Irish song filled John Dooley’s heart on election night.
Dooley sang to his supporters after hearing he would return as Nelson mayor four years after losing the position to Deb Kozak.
Dooley, who previously served three three-year terms as Nelson’s mayor and two terms as councillor, ran on addressing what he said is a lack of civic leadership under Kozak. He said his return wasn’t about vindication after losing in 2014.
“This wasn’t about the last election at all. This was about the people of Nelson who have been talking to me for the best part of a year saying we have some challenges that need to be addressed and we believe you’re the person to do it.”
Unofficial results saw Dooley finish with 2,290 votes, followed by Kozak’s 1,904 and Bernie Brown at 121.
Results will be verified next week.
Kozak, a one-term mayor who also served three previous terms on council, campaigned on three main issues: wildfire preparedness, drinking water security, and a consensus vision for the future of Nelson.
“Life goes on,”she said after receiving the results. “We have an excellent community and excellent council that has been elected and things will be good. I think the council is amazing. I know they will do a great job. I am so impressed that so many young people stepped up and I am so happy they got elected.”
Asked about her future, she said, “I’m not going anywhere. I am sure other doors will open for me.”
Brown said she felt compelled to run, in part because of her disapproval of Kozak and Dooley’s leadership, but also because of the responses she received to a letter she published about mental health in the Star’s Sept. 6 issue.
Voters also opted for an almost entirely new city council.
Incumbent Janice Morrison (1,578 votes) was re-elected, and will be joined by newcomers Rik Logtenberg (1,923), Brittny Anderson (1,862), Jesse Woodward (1,813), Cal Renwick (1,765) and Keith Page (1,389).
Dooley said he was looking forward to working with his new council.
“Whoever sits at the table is fine with me. They’ll all bring something special and we’ll get stuff done,” he said.
Dooley is currently president of the Nelson Leafs and a government liaison for the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association.
He said he thought voters were ready for a change at city hall by the time he announced his mayoral bid, and that he felt encouragement throughout the campaign.
“People weren’t second guessing if they were behind me. They were saying, ‘We’re behind you.’ That kept me motivated and I didn’t leave any stone unturned to get the votes out and I knew that was going to be the difference at the end of the day.
“I worked harder probably than I’ve ever done in the past to win this election.”
Here’s a full list of Saturday’ results for the unsuccessful council candidates:
Rob Richichi: 1,058
Robin Cherbo: 1,052
Margaret Stacey: 1,049
Michelle Hillaby: 1,037
Robbie Kalabis: 1,031
Joseph Reiner: 944
Bob Adams: 939
Brian Shields: 912
Travis Hauck: 864
Leslie Payne: 819
Laureen Barker: 712
Stephanie Wiggins: 682
Charles Jeanes: 254
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated Deb Kozak had served two terms on city council. Kozak served three three-year terms along with her four-year term as mayor.