By: Barry Coulter, Trevor Crawley and Arne Petryshen
In a dramatic evening of politics, Cranbrook elected an entirely new City Council, including the office of mayor.
Preliminary results showed Candidate Lee Pratt defeated incumbent mayor Wayne Stetski, 3396 votes to 2192. John York received 144 votes in his third run at the mayor’s seat.
The referendum question on the ballot — “Are you in favour of Council adopting the City of Cranbrook cease-fluoridation bylaw No. 3799, 2014, which authorizes stopping the addition of fluoride to the municipal water supply effective January 1, 2015?” — was defeated 2,794 to 2,473.
Election night featured Cranbrook’s first use of automatic voting machines.
Preliminary results were available two hours after the polls closed Saturday night.
“I feel really good,” said Mayor Elect Lee Pratt, at a campaign party at the Heritage Inn. “One thing I really feel good about is the numbers that came out, the people who came out to vote and I liked this year that there were some younger councillors there. They got the younger vote out. I think that’s really good when you can get the youth involved, because that’s the future of our town and they’re starting to get involved now.”
The results were stunning in several respects.
Besides the mayor, the three incumbent candidates finished out of the running — Diana J. Scott, Sharon Cross and Gerry Warner, though Cross’s seventh place was a near run thing to Wesly Graham’s sixth spot, 1,984 votes to Cross’s 1,959. Cross had actually pulled ahead when the mail-in results were counted.
The new Council is also notable for its relative youth. Tom Shypitka (3,191 votes), Ron Popoff (2,714), Isaac Hockley (2,289), Danielle Cardozo (2,219), Norma Blissett (2,194) and Wesly Graham (1,984) will take their seats at Cranbrook City Hall at the next Council meeting December 8, 2014.
Mayor Lee Pratt will preside.
“I think it looks good,” Pratt said of the Council. “There’s some good diversity on there, there’s some younger people and of course they’re going to have some good viewpoints. They want Cranbrook to progress and grow too, so they’re going to be along the lines of getting things on track here.”I think the diversity of it is good. There’s business representation, there’s arts and culture and it’s just a good diverse council and I think we can work well together.”
Pratt ran his campaign based on fiscal responsibility.
“I think people liked the financial responsibility and I think we have to get back on that track and of course, the rest is economic development. We have to broaden our tax base and if we get more industry and more people living here, that’s going to happen and that’ll help our economy.
“If we broaden our tax base, that’s going to free up more money for the roads and infrastructure, which is in bad need of repair.”
The new Councillors spoke to the Townsman Saturday, and all expressed appreciation, gratitude and respect for the democratic process that had just unfolded.
“I’m very excited and overwhelmed, and in awe of the results,” said Danielle Cardozo. “I’m thankful to the community for voting me in, I’m thankful to my supporters who helped share my platform, and I’m really looking forward to working with the new council and our new mayor.”
“I’m thrilled that I was able to become one of the councillors that will hopefully lead Cranbrook into the future for the next four years,” said Ron Popoff. “I say to all of the residents of Cranbrook that voted that I’m going to be looking at governance for the entirety of our population, and that I’m really humbled and honoured by this opportunity to help lead Cranbrook.”
“I was pleased with the campaign that we ran,” said Norma Blissett. “I thought we did a good job — we had to fly around ahead of the advance polls, and the signs up in town and good coverage.”I’m surprised by tonight’s results.” Blissett continued. “I thought the incumbents would be re-elected and there would be three new councillors, which I had hoped to be one of.”But anyway, the people have spoken, and as you know, in democracy, the people are always right.
“So we will forge ahead, all of us figuring it out together.”
“I think Cranbrook made a statement tonight,” Shypitka said, who with 3,191 votes was almost 500 votes ahead of the next nearest candidate. “Obviously there was something in the air that a change needed to come. Not finger pointing or saying anything negative about the last council that was in place but I think it’s time that we try to bridge the gaps. We have bigger fish to fry in Cranbrook.”
Wesley Graham said it feels great.
“No complaints at all. I’ve been in it for nine years in Creston and to be able to gain a seat in Cranbrook is unbelievable.
“It was a real nail biter for sure. At the end of the day people wanted a change. I bring experience, nine years around a council table and I can get stuff done and I’m prepared to do that and roll up my sleeves to do that for Cranbrook.”
“I’m excited to represent the youth,” Isaac Hockley said. “We have a lot to change in this community and it was a huge win for us.
Other candidates in the campaign: Sharon Cross, 1,959; Diana J. Scott, 1,816; Gerry Warner, 1,638; Brian Kostiuk, 1,575; Brad Scriver, 1,507; James Elliott, Bob Faiers, 1,300; Anna Hudson, 892; Alan MacBean, 795; Lynn McIntosh, 387.