A municipal election year saw dramatic turnover, and new mayors come to office in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Dan Ruimy had a track record of being electable, having already served as MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge. He headed a slate that included former school board chair Korleen Carreras, and three newcomers to municipal politics – Onyeka Dozie, Sunny Schiller, and Jenny Tan. Dozie had the experience of running for council in 2018, but he had not been successful. They formed a team known as A Better Maple Ridge.
And they were taking on a team of incumbents known as Maple Ridge First. They were headed by Mayor Mike Morden, and included councillors Judy Dueck, Chelsa Meadus and Ryan Svendsen. Meadus and Svendsen had one term in office, joining Maple Ridge First for the 2018 election, while Dueck and Morden were veteran local politicians.
When it was all over on Oct. 15, only the long-serving Dueck would retain her seat, and the rest of the MR First slate was voted out.
“I’m so humbly honoured to be accepting the position of mayor, especially that I have my whole team with me,” said Ruimy. “What an amazing feeling.”
Ruimy couldn’t be there in person to celebrate, as his team and supporters partied the coffee shop he formerly owned known as Bean Around Books. He had suffered a cardiac event, and doctors wanted to keep him under observation, so he appeared by Zoom.
Morden ran on his record – in particular his handling of the homeless issue, and building the new Community Social Safety Initiative, and the Community Safety Officers who were the faces of the program.
Ruimy emphasized his ability to deal with senior governments, win financial grants, and promised a style that would eliminate infighting among councillors.
It was a five-way race for mayor, with veteran city councillor Corisa Bell re-entering the polical scene after one term away, and Darleen Bernard and Jacques Blackstone providing voters with dark horse candidates.
Topping the polls for councillors with 6,028 votes was incumbent councillor Ahmed Yousef, who was the only independent councillor to be elected.
As he faces a new year, and his first calender year as mayor, Ruimy said his 2023 resolution is to “continue to draw on the expertise and diverse views around our council table as we work together to build a better Maple Ridge for everyone.”
“We have a great community that has a bright future, and our job is to harness the expertise in our organization, the advocacy of our passionate citizens and create a shared vision that will allow us shape a place where we can live our best lives surrounded by prosperity, nature and kindness towards each other.”
He said council will spend the coming months addressing the pressing need for affordable housing, working with senior governments. It will also continue to build stronger relationships First Nation partners, and will work with neighbouring communities to amplify the city’s voice in the Metro Vancouver Region and TransLink.
“A strong local economy is a big priority. We are committed to creating an environment for job growth, entrepreneurship and investment. We will do that work with a lens to how we can be more sustainable and lighten our impact on the environment that we all love,” he said. “That’s a big list for the new year, but it’s all doable if we work together as a council and as a community.”
There was no race in Pitt Meadows. Mayor Bill Dingwall decided he would hang up his gavel after eight years on council, including the last in the top job.
City councillor announced she would run for office, and took the position by acclamation, as she ran unopposed.
“I take it as a compliment that the community is behind me and believes in what we’re doing,” she said.
“I’m 43-years-old and was a police officer with the Vancouver Police Department, but I’ve also been a small business owner and a councillor,” said MacDonald. “Having all that experience, I feel, will really help me in this position. And being a woman and a mom of two girls means I will bring a new level of communication.”
Dingwall wasn’t the only departure from city council, as Anena Simpson also left local politics, after having served a single term. With she and MacDonald not running for council, that left two spots, which were filled by new councillors Miek Manion and Alsion Evans.
Tracy Elke (Miyashita), Mike Hayes, Bob Meachen and Gwen O’Connell were the four incumbents who ran, and all kept their seats at the council table through the election.