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Maple Ridge mayor’s race too close to call

Michael Morden's campaign sent out 'voice-drop' calls to 18,000 homes
Ernie Daykin

Judging by the two-fold increase in people in the advance polls this year, Maple Ridge residents might be eager to get the voting booth Saturday. They might be eager for a change.

And they might be eager to see someone else in the mayor’s chair, says Gary Cleave.

Cleave is one of the five running for mayor and knows he’s not going to win. But he’s confident council will change.

“I would not be at all surprised to see a change of mayor,” Cleave said.

“I think that Ernie [Daykin] and Mike [Morden] are probably going to split the pro-business Liberal establishment vote. Those guys are going at it hammer and tong.”

While Morden’s been criticizing Daykin, he might pay the price as well for being on the existing council that people want turfed.

“I would not be surprised to see both lose,”  said Cleave.

“But right now, the only thing I feel comfortable with is the advance polls suggest there’s going to be a different council.”

A total of 1,492 people showed up at the early voting booths this year, double that from 2011.

Morden’s campaign organizer, Wilson Sieg, says municipal elections are difficult to call because there isn’t the same amount of voter information available as in provincial elections.

Sieg has managed more than a dozen campaigns at the federal and provincial levels and can't say who's in front.

“When you’re this close to the action and you’re in a bubble, it’s really hard to say.”

Every candidate’s goal should be to get enough people to turn out and then elect a good council, he said.

“It’s just about five good people wanting to become mayor.”

Nicole Read and Graham Mowatt are also seeking election as mayor.

Morden’s campaign sent out “voice-drop” messages to the land lines of about 18,000 voters Monday, with a 30-second message.

But large numbers of unlisted phone numbers or those who only use cellphones reduces the number of land line connections that pollsters or politicians can access.

Sieg said the voice drops have produced some positive and neutral responses.

Feedback received at the front doors of residents is also hard to gauge, he said. People are reluctant to say how they feel in a small community.

Daykin, seeking a third term as mayor, said it’s obvious some people want a change. But he still considers himself the front-runner.

“I’m getting a ton of positive feedback and support.”

He says he believes he’s been a good leader of council, but may have to adjust his style.

He makes no assumptions, though.

“I think it’s going to be a tight race for sure.”

He said the high point in the campaign was the debate on homelessness and crime at the Salvation Army, where he was criticized for rising crime rates.

“Yes, it was tough to hear those things said about me.”

He’d be willing to talk about relocating the Salvation Army’s Caring Place, situated at the entrance to downtown on 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway, if other agencies agree.

Mowatt predicts an increase in voter turnout of between 10 and 20 per cent over the 25 per cent total from 2011.

“I think there’s a very real mood for change,” he said.

“The No. 1 issue is crime. They feel nothing has been done.”

Mowatt predicts he’ll finish second with Daykin the winner and Morden third, “if not fourth.”

“There’s hardly anyone I find, except some Rotarians and business people, who are supporting,” Morden, he said.

Morden said by voice mail that he was feeling “happy and healthy” and was looking forward to Saturday night.

Read didn’t return phone calls.