Women will be well represented on Pictou County councils for the next four years following Saturday’s municipal election.
Females were well represented in the number of candidates this year and each municipal unit in the county has at least one woman on council.
Every council in the county has changed in composition with the exception of Stellarton which retains its mayor in Danny MacGillivray who received almost double the number of votes as his challenger, Darren Stroud. MacGillivray earned 1,210 votes compared to Stroud’s 669.
Speaking by phone Saturday evening, MacGillivray was elated with the results, saying he believes Stellarton’s results are a validation for all of the hard work his council has done over the past four years.
“With the big issues – like the rink issue – I think it shows people were on our side,” MacGillivray said. Council’s recent decision to close the aging rink to save taxpayer dollars was a contentious issue for many, including his opponent. After several meetings, expert opinions and community input, council decided to sell the rink to the newly formed non-profit group Stellarton Memorial Community Centre Association for $1 and to offer the SMCCA a grant in lieu of its tax bill.
While campaigning door to door, MacGillivray said the rink did not seem to be an election issue.
“People were very clear that they loved the rink but they didn’t want to pay more taxes to support it or modernize it. So that is a validation for me and the entire council because it was very a tough issue. This shows that we did have the people on our side.”
A total of 1,882 votes were cast for mayor of Stellarton with one spoiled ballot two declined.
All four councillors have also been returned – Simon Lawand and Bryan Knight were returned by acclamation in Ward 1. Garry Pentz and Susan Campbell in Ward 2 were opposed by newcomers Brian Linthorne and Trudy Vince. Campbell received 568 votes and Pentz received 424 compared to Linthorne’s 323 votes and Vince’s 239. In total, 1,559 votes were cast for town councillors in Stellarton with two spoiled and three declined.
Trenton is the only town in the county to see a big change in council composition. Citizens elected a new mayor in Don Hussher, who had stepped down as town councillor to run for mayor; he received more votes than incumbent Shannon MacInnis – but by a slim margin; Hussher received at 666 votes compared to the 604 received by MacInnis.
“First of all I’d like to thank my campaign team. They did a fabulous job, they were out working hard and it paid off,” Hussher said when reached by phone.
“And I’d like to thank the citizens of Trenton for voting for me.”
The 15-year council veteran was clear with his intentions. “Whether you voted for me or not I’d like people to know I’m here for the citizens of Trenton. There were some allegations that if elected I would not want to continue with the Trenton Park revitalization project but that was just not true. I squashed those rumours and want people to know I am committed to the park project and to working with the volunteers, staff and citizens.”
Hussher also said he was pleased to welcome two women to council.
Newcomers Heather Hughes-Head received the lion’s share of votes with 975 followed close behind by Nicole LeBlanc with 970. The only incumbent councilor VJ Earle, received 707 votes and newcomer Steven Cotter, who also served on town council previously, received 649 votes. Alec Dove with 481 votes and Steven Stewart with 348 votes will not be returning to council.
“It’s great to see two women elected to council, it’s long overdue,” said Hussher.
He is looking forward to continuing on council in his new role.
“I believe all of the candidates ran a fabulous campaign and worked hard.”
In total, 1,277 votes were cast for mayor of Trenton with five spoiled ballots and two declined. For councillors, 4,263 votes were cast with seven declined.
In Pictou, Mayor Jim Ryan was acclaimed in his role; two of the four councillors are newcomers and two of the four are women.
Newcomer Melinda MacKenzie received the lion’s share of votes in Pictou with 890. Following close behind was returning councillor Nadine LeBlanc with 820. Veteran town councillor Dan Currie received 766 votes and Shawn McNamara, who has previously served on council, received 685 votes. Not returning to Pictou town council is Eric Daley who had 460 votes. Challengers were Cam Beaton at 564 (Beaton was inadvertently left out of the print version), Jerry Cyr at 543 votes, Kenny Paquet with 395 and Kevin Pettipas with 174. In total, 5,302 votes were cast in Pictou with two spoiled ballots and three declined.
Westville town council is also almost all new with the exception of Mayor Lennie White who was acclaimed and one returning town councillor, Clarrie MacKinnon who received 908 votes.
There are now three women on Westville town council. Taking the majority of votes in Westville was newcomer Meghan Bragg with 1,039 votes followed by Mitchell MacGregor, another fresh face for council, who received 859 votes. Betty Jean Sutherland, also a council newbie, received 795 votes.
Former councillor Bernie Murphy will not be returning to council and fellow former councillors Charlie Sutherland and Lynn MacLean did not re-offer. In total, 4,278 votes were cast in Westville with only one spoiled vote.
New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks retains her position after receiving 3,328 votes compared to challenger Mark Firth with 304 votes. In total, 3,728 votes were cast for mayor.
Three out of six town councillors are new. In Ward 1, Jocelyn Dorrington was resoundingly returned with 657 votes and Russell Borden Jr. was elected with 443 votes. Elizabeth Paris received 314 votes. There were 1,424 votes cast for Ward 1 councillors. In Ward 2, veteran councillor Clyde Fraser will return to council after receiving 447; he will be joined by newcomer Dawn Peters who received 602 votes. There were six people looking to represent Ward 2 on council and the votes were close in some cases. Mike MacInnis received 204 votes, Tammy MacLaren received 425, Bill Muirhead 101, and Jessie Parkinson 362. In total, 2,145 votes were cast with two spoiled ballots and two declined. In Ward 3, incumbent Joe MacDonald was returned with 939 votes. Earning the most votes in the ward was newcomer Fred El Haddad with 1,021 votes. Elizabeth Daley received 800 votes and Mike Slowik received 160. There were 2,929 votes cast in Ward 3 with four spoiled ballots and five declined.
In the Municipality of Pictou County, all of the councillors who were running with opposition managed to retain their seats:
In District 3, Darla MacKeil received 579 votes compared with challenger Robbie MacInnis with 171. A total of 758 votes were cast with five spoiled and three declined.
In District 6, Robert Parker received 558 votes compared with challenger Erinn Wright’s 249. In total, 807 votes were cast in this district.
In District 8, Larry Turner received 385 votes to challenger Peter Baird’s 270. There were 660 votes cast in this area with three spoiled and two declined.
In District 10, long-time councilor Randy Palmer received 526 votes compared to challenger Donna MacGregor’s 206. A total of 734 votes were cast in District 10 with two spoiled.
In District 11, Andy Thompson returned to council with 500 votes compared to challenger Gregg MacDonald’s 334 votes. There were 835 votes cast in this area with one spoiled.
In District 12, long-serving Chester Dewar was returned to council in a landslide with 600 cast for him compared to the 67 that were cast for opponent Cory Hudson Chisholm. A total of 671 votes were cast in District 12 with two spoiled and two declined.
Acclaimed councillors are: Don Butler in District 1; Deborah G. Wadden in District 2; Mary Woolridge-Elliott in District 4; Wayne Murray in District 5; David Parker in District 7; and Peter Boyles in District 9.