The numbers are official now and Mike Morden will sit in the Maple Ridge mayor’s chair for the next four years, but the tone of this past campaign, according to one of his opponents, could have implications long after that.
Morden won in Saturday’s civic election with 11,287 votes, more than all of his challengers combined.
And while Craig Speirs says “never say never” about running again, Ernie Daykin says he’s done with politics.
“That chapter’s closed,” Daykin said Thursday.
“I don’t see the whole social media, the tone of elections, getting better.”
Daykin, who was mayor from 2008 to 2014, accepts that people didn’t want him to be mayor anymore, and they didn’t like his policies, although he was proud of the fact that he was one of only two, two-term mayors in 40 years.
But the personal shots against him online during the campaign stung.
“What I find disappointing or troubling … I can’t believe that my footware was a topic of some posts.”
Other comments were about his weight or maybe that he shouldn’t have syrup on his waffles, Daykin added.
That hurt, he said.
“It’s kind of tough because your family and your kids see that stuff, read that stuff, too.
“Maybe that’s the way of the world today.”
The vitriol was mainly online because Daykin said he didn’t encounter it when he was campaigning on the street.
“It’s a new low that politics is getting to … because of the success of some candidates south of the border,” Daykin said.
“Maybe that’s the new norm.”
Nothing in his campaign went out without him seeing it, he added. But he said the tenor of debate online could also discourage others from stepping up to serve in office.
He added that he doesn’t want to come across as a sore loser and that he can contribute to the community without being on council.
But the new council needs to work on removing the division within the community, Daykin said.
“I hope they can do that,” he added.
“Maple Ridge is a pretty special place and I hope that the new council handles this community with care. They’ve got some stuff to do, for sure.”
Speirs won’t rule out a return to politics of some kind, although he said he’s currently focused on planting garlic and harvesting potatoes in his garden.
“Never say never, man. At the moment, I’m quite happy to be a gentleman gardener.”
Speirs said Morden’s win was a resounding one.
“And I’ve got to respect that. And I do, I do respect that. We’ve got a bunch of new people on council, which is always a good thing. I wish them nothing but luck, I really do. They’ll find out how quickly how hollow their promises were.”
He also took criticism for a recent online post, saying the new council was a “worst nightmare” for the re-elected Kiersten Duncan. Speirs said that he meant that to be in a private message to her. Both were the only councillors who voted in favour of the supportive housing complex on Burnett Street last spring.
“It wasn’t fair to Kiersten and I apologize,” Speirs said. “I haven’t made a lot of mistakes, but that was definitely one.”
He said that the homeless must be treated with respect, as set out by court rulings.
“Treat people with respect and you’ll get a decent output,” he added.
Speirs said he also found online “chatter and absolute viciousness” disconcerting.
“I’m going to be an avid council watcher and if I feel they need some feedback, I’ll give it to them.”
He added that everyone who participated in the election was a winner and the only losers were those who didn’t vote or participate.
“I think we’ve got a great future ahead of us, Maple Ridge. We just have to be innovative and welcoming and we’ll get what we need.”
He added there’s no secret to helping the homeless. That’s done by building homes, Speirs said.
The actual number of people, 20,123, who showed up to vote was up by 20 per cent when compared to 2014, owing to population growth and the garbage plebiscite.
But the actual percentage voter turnout increased by only two per cent, from just under 32 per cent to just under 34 per cent.
Counting of votes was delayed slightly on election night when two of the aging vote-counting machines broke down. To work around that, an operating vote-counting machine was brought to the two polls affected, allowing votes to be counted.
The data and physical ballots were all secure, added elections officer Laura Benson.
The vote-counting machines are mechanical devices that simply count votes and are not online and not subject to hacking.