DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor maintained her undefeated record in elections, as Uxbridge voted to bring her back to the head of the council bench for another four years on Monday, Oct. 27.
With 49.7 per cent of the votes cast, O’Connor won out over challengers Ted Eng (25.77 per cent) and Bob Shepherd (24.51 per cent).
“To be re-elected again to represent the people of Uxbridge feels great,” Mayor O’Connor told The Standard. “But, I didn’t do it alone, and I had a great council behind me, and I’m looking forward to working with our new council.”
Going forward, Mayor O’Connor noted that the election process has revealed some areas that the municipality could potentially improve upon.
“One thing that I learned through this process was that the township has to do a better job of communicating about large developments. I think we may have missed the boat on a couple of issues.”
With voter turnout in Uxbridge Township down slightly as 8,076 residents or 50.33 per cent cast ballots, down from 51.8 per cent of eligible voters in 2010, O’Connor opined that perhaps changes are needed with the way municipal elections are contested.
“I think people are fed up with the almost year-long election process,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “I will be asking for council’s support for a motion to go forward to the province asking for a change, from roughly 10 months to 60 days.”
Incumbents largely held onto their seats in this municipal election, save for Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast, who was ousted after 23 years on council by Pam Beach, who eked out a 22 vote victory. Beach took 531 votes (44.5 per cent) to Northeast’s 509 (42.7 per cent). Blair Emmerson rounded out the Ward 1 race with 152 votes (12 per cent).
“I can’t even come up with words,” an ecstatic Beach told The Standard. “I gave it 150 per cent, and the people have spoken that they want change.”
Election night doubled as Mrs. Beach’s 41st wedding anniversary to her husband Ed, and she noted that the win was “a wonderful anniversary gift.”
The other new face on Uxbridge council will be Ward 4 Councillor Fred Bryan, who took 919 votes (38 per cent), ahead of challengers Conrad Boyce with 807 votes (34 per cent) and Dave Granic, who collected 654 votes (27 per cent).
“There was a real sense of relief as the results started to come through,” Mr. Bryan said. “You put in all of this hard work not knowing if you’ll be rewarded, but it was a great feeling, and I can’t wait to get started.”
In other ward races, Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy held onto his seat with 55 per cent of the vote, as he defeated Gary Ruona.
Pat Mikuse took 53 per cent of the votes cast in Ward 3 to claim her third term on council, besting Bob Harrison and Bruce Rodman.
Ward 5 voters returned Gord Highet to the council bench for the third time with 60 per cent of the votes cast in his favour, as he won over challengers Joy Whalen and Sally Brady.
Uxbridge voters re-elected Jack Ballinger as Regional Councillor with 52 per cent of the votes cast. Jon Taylor finished second with 25 per cent, followed closely by Michelle Viney with 22 per cent.
The new council will be sworn in on Monday, Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. for the inaugural meeting, with councillors resuming regular meetings on Monday, Dec. 8, starting at 9:30 a.m.
In other municipal election news, a familiar face will be representing North Durham as English Catholic School Board Trustee, with the re-election of Kathy LeFort over challenger Richard Damianopoulos.
Elinor Hansen edged out Gord Baxter for the position of English Public School Board Trustee in Uxbridge/Brock.
Additionally, for the first time in the 40 year history of Durham Region, the Regional Chair was directly elected, as Roger Anderson returns to the role he has served in for the past 17 years after taking a resounding 48 per cent of the vote.
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