Becker elected mayor in Pitt Meadows

Bill Dingwall leads polls among city councillors; Gwen O'Connell not re-elected.

John Becker receives congratulations from his wife Terry on Saturday night

John Becker receives congratulations from his wife Terry on Saturday night

If Pitt Meadows mayor-elect John Becker was humbled by his 2011 election defeat by Deb Walters, he showed humility in victory on Saturday night, after winning the top job at city hall.

“It’s been a long haul. When I was first approached to run, I had to take a good hard look at myself and the reasons why I lost last time. I had to make some changes to my leadership style, and my team skills,” said Becker.

“I’m very familiar with legislation, government, legal stuff, land development – and I was likely often overbearing, because of my professional expertise,” he conceded.

“So I had to dial that way back, make room for other people’s opinions, and be a little less … arrogant, frankly.

“The people who supported me this time, by and large, did not support me last time,” he said. “I had a number of conversations with them, and them with me, and here we are now.”

Becker served nine years as a councillor before being defeated by Walters in 2011.

He earned 2,114 votes. Walters did not run in 2014, and Becker’s closest rival was Michael Hayes, who finished with 1,589 votes.

“Michael had a very strong showing, as I would have expected,” said Becker.

Gary Paller was third with 228 votes

Bill Dingwall, the retired RCMP officer and former chief, was one of two new members elected to council and led the polls with 2,417 votes. Mike Stark, another newcomer, had 2,143 votes.

Stark has attended council meetings dutifully for two terms – six years – despite not being elected. Becker called him “One of the hardest working people in city hall who was not in city hall.”

Voters rewarded Stark for his hard work, and he surprised himself with the strong showing in the election.

“But we worked hard, we worked hard as a team – this just wasn’t me,” said Stark. “We had a platform, and now the work begins.”

Incumbents Janis Elkerton (2,225 votes), Bruce Bell (2,032) and David Murray (1,851) ran as part of a team with Becker and Stark, and were all elected, as was Tracy Miyashita (2,108).

“It’s going to be a good council. It’s going to be an excellent council,” said Stark. “The people of Pitt Meadows can look forward to good governance, and maybe even a way in and out of Pitt Meadows.”

Elkerton said she was “thrilled” with the makeup of council.

“They [voters] picked people who are business minded, who have roots in the community, and who are going to make good decisions for the whole community,” said Elkerton, who is now the senior voice on council, having served since 2003.

“It’s got to be a balance. It can’t be just about cutting taxes. It has to be about preserving services, too,” she said.

With two newcomers among the top three in the polls, Becker agreed that voters appeared to want change at city hall.

“It speaks, first of all, to the hard work that both Bill and Mike put into the campaign, so kudos to them for that,” he said.

“People maybe wanted to shake things up a little, and both of them are very good people.”

Veteran councillor Gwen O’Connell, who has been on council since 1993, missed being re-elected by fewer than 200 votes, with 1,692.

“There are only six positions and it’s a bit sad to see Coun. O’Connell not make the short list,” said Becker. “I worked with her for many, many years. She will be missed. She advocates for many of our less advantaged citizens, so we will have to make sure, as a council, that we do not let that constituency fall between the cracks.”

Andrew Thompson (1,641), Scott Magri (1,224) and Andrena Raymond (773) were the other council candidates.

Results are not official.