Though the race for Nelson’s mayor lacked the fireworks typically seen in the battle for the city’s top political post, John Dooley expressed relief Saturday night when it was confirmed voters gave him the nod for the third straight election.
“Some people were saying to me all along that I shouldn’t be nervous, but I was,” Dooley told the crowd gathered at his Jackson’s Hole election night party.
“You never know what can happen in an election, you can never dismiss any person who decides to run. We ran our campaign as diligently as we have ever in the past and that was important to us in the end.”
Dooley won the mayor’s ballot in a landslide. The incumbent topped the polls with 1,790 votes, 1,309 tallies ahead of second place finisher Richard Rowberry. Third place went to George Mercredi with 105 votes.
In Dooley’s first stab at mayor in 2005, he beat incumbent mayor Dave Elliott by 435 votes.
In the 2008 election Dooley was challenged by David Aaron and Gord McAdams where be beat both handily with more than 50 per cent of the popular vote.
“What drives me to do this is that I have a huge debt to pay and the debt is that I had an opportunity to come to Canada,” Dooley told his supporters. “For me to get elected as mayor just gives you an idea of what this nation stands for… the opportunities for people are there for anyone who wants to go after them.”
Prior to his stint as mayor, Dooley also served two terms as a city councillor. Despite his depth at City Hall, the mayor said a run for a third term was not inevitable.
Dooley’s wife Pat has been dealing with cancer which required surgery in Vancouver more than a year ago. Though she has bounced back, Dooley said his first priority is his family.
“It was a real challenge for us in many ways. I wasn’t sure if would be running for mayor again,” he said Saturday.
“If it wasn’t for the support of Pat getting behind me and telling me that if my heart’s in it, I should do it. It was the right thing to do and I am really pleased with the results tonight.”
Dooley took time to thank all his support team who have been with him since he first broke into politics. Also in the crowd was Dooley’s sister Katrina who made the trip from Ireland to spend time with her older brother and arrived Friday night as a surprise.
“It just means so much for her to come across the Atlantic and drop in on us,” Dooley said.
Dooley also took the time to thank last term’s council.
“The council we had has worked really well together
and it has allowed me to carry Nelson’s message to other places because I don’t have to deal with a lot of stuff around the council table,” he said.
“That group of councillors have the strength, character and commitment to their community… I take great pride in allowing the councillors to carry their portfolios forward and deliver good things to the community.”
After the speech, traditional singing of an Irish folk song and hugs from his supporters, Dooley told the Star that this new council will immediately face challenges and have important work to tackle.
“Right now I think we are at a real crossroads,” he said. “All you have to do is watch the news and there is a lot of concern about the economy. Going forward we are going to have to really keep an eye on that prize. We are well positioned, but it’s time to be cautious while still going forward. We pride ourselves on the planning we have done and I think what we have done has set us on a real good course and we just have to make sure we stay there.”
In the council race, veteran local politician Donna Macdonald topped the polls with 1,744 votes. Newcomer Paula Kiss was second with 1,709 followed by Bob Adams (1,605), Deb Kozak (1,595), Robin Cherbo (1,574) and Candace Batycki (1,445). With 1,272 votes, incumbent Margaret Stacy lost her seat and Charles Jeanes registered 495 votes.
Voter turnout in the election, which used an automated vote counting machine for the first time, was dismal: 33 per cent.
In the school trustee race for Nelson, incumbents Bill Maslechko (1,407 votes) and Bob Wright (1,342 votes) will both be back at the School District No. 8 board table. Newcomer Curtis Bendig finished with 873 votes.
In the Regional District of Central Kootenay, it was a good night for the incumbents with Andy Shadrack (Area D), Ramona Faust (Area E), Ron Mickel (Area F), Hans Cunningham (Area G) and Walter Popoff (Area H) all winning return trips to the board table.
AROUND THE REGION: Mayor Madeleine Perriere was returned in Slocan along with the rest of her all-woman council.
Perriere defeated John Gates for the second straight election, by a vote of 96 to 63. The councillors are Jessica Lunn, Jean Patterson, Hillary Elliott, and Patricia McGreal.
Kathy Provan will become the first woman to serve as mayor of Silverton. She defeated incumbent councillor Carol Bell, who topped the polls in 2008, by a vote of 59 to 43. The rest of council was acclaimed.
In New Denver, while mayor Ann Bunka was elected by acclamation to replace Gary Wright, who is retiring after 22 years, she has a brand new council comprised of Heather Fox, Henning Von Krogh, Nadine Raynolds, and David Hodsall.
In Kaslo, mayor Greg Lay was re-elected over Pat Mackle and Teresa May. The council is incumbents Suzan Hewat and Molly Leathwood, former mayor Jim Holland, and newcomer Rob Lang.
Salmo mayor Ann Henderson and the rest of her council were already returned by acclamation.
However, Salmo will have a new school trustee: Sheri Huser defeated three other candidates, including incumbent Art Field. The riding also includes Taghum.