The results came in just before 10:00pm on October 22nd 2018 when it was announced that Mike Bradley won his tenth term as the Mayor of Sarnia.
By a landslide.
Despite having literally zero public input for the removal of the paper ballot, Sarnia voted electronically for the first time, making voter turnout in Sarnia the highest it’s been in over two decades. Statistical analyst Paul Sawczuk says that based on the demographics that voted, the biggest increases were from age groups that generally complained the most about online voting. It was a change, but “it wasn’t the change that was expected.”
25,207 people cast ballots: 48.9% of eligible voters. This is up from 37.1% in 2014, with Bradley receiving over 3000 more votes than he received in the last election, beating Anne Marie Gillis for the second time and putting an end to one of the most contentious elections in Sarnia’s history.
Humbled and grateful by the strong public support, Bradley says not only does he know he has to keep on earning that trust everyday, but he also states he’s “only halfway up the mountain to making City Hall the people place again.”
Despite what one councillor is stating on social media, this was not a “battle of good versus evil.” This was a battle of politicians versus administration, and only time will tell whether or not the relationship between the head of administration and the head of council will be able to reconcile. If not, one will need to leave and the people spoke loud and clear regarding who they want to stay.
Because I have the next four years to focus on those who did win seats as elected officials, (and a great big congratulations, by the way, to Mayor Mike Bradley, City Councillors Bill Dennis, Nathan Calquhoun, George Vandenberg, Terry Burrell, and City and County Councillors Dave Boushy, Margaret Bird, Brian White and Mike Stark), I’d like to take the time now to share some of my reflections on some of the candidates who did not win seats in this election, but nonetheless, deserve some recognition.
Firstly, I would like to personally thank each and every one who threw their hat in the ring, and more specifically, those who answered the call and worked with me to bring the first on camera election video series to voters in Sarnia. Current members of City Council Matt Mitro, Bev MacDougall, Anne Marie Gillis and Andy Bruziewicz all deserve a thank you for their service, and of those I met during the election, I have to say there were some truly incredible people who I am grateful to have worked with. Susan MacFarlane took extra time to answer my questions on her thoughts on the water rate structure and explained the science behind fluoride and lead as a leaching agent. A highly educated yet down to earth candidate, Susan ran a great campaign. David Waters brought the housing crisis to light and I have no doubt he will continue to work hard in fighting for this cause. Greg Jones is an exemplary example of a straight shooting grassroots leader, bringing authenticity, genuine conversation and shedding light on his push to get Sarnia’s opioid crisis under control. Marie Timperley, David Potts, and Eric Dalziel highlighted their dislike of what they perceived as mismanagement of City assets, bringing more needed attention to the closure of Jackson Pool. This issue was also previously championed by City Council candidates Michelle Parks and Dan Harding, two people behind the Save Jackson Pool petition and online Facebook group. Janet Chynces impressed me with her logic and fact-based stances and ability to leave her emotions at the door and lead with her intellect. Gail White had a perfect blend of intelligence and compassion, setting an example of not just what it means to speak but what it means to listen. Mel Gibson had tact, class, kindness and enthusiasm that could inspire anyone. I have no doubt that she will continue her work in public service, and we are lucky to have her doing so. Next is Bryan Trothen, who spoke confidently and clearly about how he would approach municipal governance. Steve Blair, another down to earth, intelligent, and easy to talk to man who would have also made an excellent councillor. Denise Robertson, who was so kind and has already worked hard in breaking down barriers for small business in Sarnia, ran a positive campaign with class and dignity. John Parker and Bill Hawkins were both very interesting men who each stayed extra to answer all of my follow up questions. Ian Hope, while answering all of my questions regarding the municipal side of things, has a killer sense of humour, along with Norm Francoeur who I really can’t say enough about what a truthful, humble, intelligent and hilarious community advocate he is.
Finally, I will leave you with the millennial candidate reflections who every day of their campaigns proved what this generation is made of:
Matthew MacDonald said “Running for council for the first time has been an enormous learning experience. I tried to keep my campaign and interactions with fellow hopefuls as positive as possible, and despite only garnering just under 1000 votes I think that positive attitude has paid off and this is what the city needed. I’m also glad to see most candidates did the same thing, focusing on positive growth and moving forward […] While its too early to be sure whether I will run again, if this is the calibre of candidates we attract in the future, I have no doubt that Sarnia will move in to the future in good hands.”
Graham Pedregosa: “I am really proud of the work our campaign did in connecting and reconnecting with neighbours. It wasn’t the results we were hoping for but I hope our campaign brought up key issues to our new council such as tackling the opioid crisis, and finding new ways to grow Sarnia. I’ll still be at TMRRW doing some exciting projects in building Sarnia up and hope to work with the new council in finding solutions to problems in our city.”
Meghan Reale: “Our city does not have a shortage of great ideas for growth nor ambitious citizens eager to play a positive and productive role in bettering our city. The election has renewed my drive to be an active force for good in Sarnia and hope it has inspired others to do the same, regardless of political aspirations.”
Cole Anderson: “Though the results of the election were not in my favour, I am proud of the fact that I ran a clean, professional, and honourable campaign driven by integrity. Now that the election is over our success will no longer be measured by the number of votes each candidate earned, but rather by the positive impact that our ideas, visions, and debates over the past few months will hopefully have on Sarnia’s future. Together, we were able to kickstart some important discussions that will undoubtedly begin to shape the direction of Sarnia in the coming years.”