Maple Ridge has a new mayor after political newcomer Nicole Read swept to victory Saturday, unseating the present mayor and earning a 812-vote margin over runner up Mike Morden.
"I think I resonated with the need for change," said Read, in a crowded city council chambers. "I think they saw me as the authentic, positive … change."
Read first got involved in the community in 2013 by opposing the rezoning of a school site in the Silver Valley area for housing. She formed the Action Silver Valley Facebook group and launched a petition to preserve the site for school use.
A business owner whose company researches Aboriginal claims against the Crown, Read announced her intentions to run for council in August, but was undecided on seeking a seat as councillor or mayor. In September, she opted to run for mayor.
Results came in slowly after polls closed at 8 p.m.
It wasn't until past 9 p.m. and the last results from Laity View elementary were posted on the big screen that applause broke out and Read's win was confirmed.
"I had a lot of indicators in the community that there was a good possibility that I would win," Read said.
Read's final tally of 5,637 votes was more than Morden's 4,825 and Ernie Daykin who took 3,958, ending his 14 years on council, the last two served as mayor.
Read said voters saw her as one of them. "I think I am them," she said.
"I want to build a really strong team of my council. I want to work with staff."
Following up a campaign promise, Read said in the first three months, she'll create a mayor's task force to address homelessness and addiction-based crime.
"I want to tackle homelessness. That's a real big issue for me."
She also wants to review departments and budgets at city hall and promised "open, transparent government.
"I'm 110 per cent in favour of transparent government." She said she's not politically aligned with any provincial party.
Although this was her first political effort, she said based on her experience in it, she can deal with whatever comes along during her four-year term.
"This has been a rough campaign so I've had to have a particularly thick skin."
Corisa Bell was re-elected to council for a second term and topped the polls with 7,941 votes.
"I think the community has spoken," Bell said. "Change is here."
"I'm very happy. I look forward to Nicole's leadership."
Bob Masse also was re-elected to a second term on council and came second with 7,240 votes.
"I think it's a really good mix. I think we're going to be an effective council." Asked if the new council will have less rancour than the one that just completed its three-year term and he said he hoped so.
The remaining four councillors that were elected, include two rookies and two veterans.
Craig Speirs, who served four previous terms on council, was re-elected for a fifth term with 4,456 votes. Gordy Robson, Maple Ridge mayor from 2005 to 2008, also was brought back to council, with 4,470 votes.
Newcomers Tyler Shymkiw had 6,133 votes and Kiersten Duncan earned 4,950 votes.
Robson said it wasn't the result he anticipated, "but I'm sure we'll learn to work together."
At Morden's campaign office two blocks down from city hall, the mood was subdued.
"I enjoyed the experience," said Morden. "It was phenomenal as far as the volunteers were concerned.
"The community has spoken. They want change. The proof will be in the pudding as to what it delivers. I'm obviously concerned for the future of Maple Ridge, that was the reason that I ran. I want to see great outcomes for Maple Ridge, I really do.
"I'm just thankful for all those who supported me along the way."
Asked what he thought of the new council and Morden said "it's going to be interesting."
Morden served two terms on council before deciding to run for the mayor's chair. He said had no other plans for political involvement. But he pointed out the new council now has a few months before wrestling with the budget or financial plan, a change he said he brought in as chair of the finance committee.
The two other mayoralty candidates Graham Mowatt and Gary Cleave had 1,883 and 363 votes respectively.
Council incumbent Al Hogarth was not re-elected after serving three terms as councillor and one as mayor.
Sara Dawn Becket, Chelsa Meadus and Don Mitchell all earned more than 3,000 votes, but were not elected. Results are not official.
• Maple Ridge trustees elected to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board were:
Lisa Beare: 6,433
Mike Murray: 6,317
Ken Clarkson: 6,012
Susan Carr: 5,882
Dave Remple: 5,719