Ernie Daykin knew it was going to be close Saturday night. When the early numbers from the advance polls were posted in Maple Ridge council chambers, things looked good for the first few minutes.
“I was cautiously optimistic. Did I know that there were people wanting to change? I knew that.”
Then the numbers started to come in from polling stations such as in Hammond and newcomer Nicole Read was in the lead and never gave it up.
Daykin read the writing on the wall.
“The next two big polls came in and I said, ‘We’re done.’”
It took until past nine o’clock, but by that time, Read, riding a wave of resentment from the suburbs, grabbed 5,637 votes and the mayor’s chair.
Council challenger Michael Morden came second and bumped the mayor down to third place.
Daykin concedes voters were looking for someone seemingly tougher or more results oriented. Voter anger over lack of services in suburbs, such as sidewalks or parks, and the perception he was a weak leader spelled his defeat.
During the campaign, Daykin said he tried not to let the election get in the way of his mayoralty duties and that he didn’t fall into attack mode with negative campaigns, despite being blamed by Morden for Maple Ridge’s increasing crime. But he thought he had a real shot at being re-elected for a third term.
Yet, he and all of council were blamed for continuing with a controversial proposal to put modular homes near the South Alouette River. Only Daykin and outgoing Coun. Cheryl Ashlie supported the staff denial of the project.
“I worked hard at it. I think I ran a positive campaign. So maybe I’m the Adrian Dix [defeated NDP leader] of Maple Ridge.
“It hurts like hell because I put my heart and soul into the job.”
Asked for any advice to give the new mayor, Daykin said to forget about living a normal life.
“The things that really surprised me … be prepared that you do not have a private life anymore.
“It’s a 24-7 job. Get out there and represent the community with a big smile. You’re the public face of the community and be positive.
“You get out of the job as much as you put into it.”
And trust the staff at city hall, he says.
“They are great people. They are incredibly professional and they want the community to succeed as badly as the politicians do.”
Building relationships, take time, he added. During his first term as mayor, Daykin was on only one Metro Vancouver committee. During his second term he was on four committees, chairing one.
The next council has its work cut out for it, says Daykin, who’s got a public hearing and one more council meeting on Nov. 25 as mayor, before the new council is sworn in Dec. 1.
When it comes to relations with fellow councillors, Daykin says to give your council colleagues the benefit of the doubt and don’t assume ulterior motives.
For now, Daykin has no other plans, although he’ll keep working part-time with the Baptist housing society. “I can’t not work. I have to do something, whether it’s paid or not.
“I’m going to walk out of here with my head held high. I love the community and I hope these guys take care of it.
“At the end of the day, the people of Maple Ridge allowed me to sit in the mayor’s chair, for which I’ll be eternally grateful. And I never thought I would. It was super cool.”