Jesse Stretch and Mike Morden on election night. (THE NEWS/files)

Rearview: Voters spoke loudly for a new Maple Ridge council

Morden steam rolls into top spot

Voters spoke clearly on Oct. 20.

They weren’t happy with the last four years and voted for a new mayor and mostly a new council, with the numbers leaving no doubt about how they felt.

When it came to the race for the top spot, the results weren’t even close.

Council veteran Mike Morden, who also ran in 2014 for mayor, stormed into office with a landslide of 11,287 ballots.

That’s more than Ernie Daykin, a former mayor and councillor, Craig Speirs, a former councillor, and Doug Blamey earned when all their votes were combined.

Morden’s returns were more than Ernie Daykin’s who earned 4,481 and Craig Speirs who was third with 3,258. Doug Blamey received 574. A fourth mayoralty candidate Mike Shields, drew 336 votes, although he had earlier withdrawn from the race.

At a noisy election central premises at Maple Ridge city hall, Morden said his campaign team worked hard and that he was happy with the results.

For council, Judy Dueck led the polls with 8,597 votes as she returned to council following a four-year absence. Gordy Robson, an incumbent, was second with 7,738. Chelsa Meadus (7,441), Ahmed Yousef (6,871), Ryan Svendsen (6,415) and incumbent Kiersten Duncan (5,979) were also elected.

“The election is now over. The voters have clearly spoken and with that comes tremendous responsibility. It is now time to get to work for the people,” Morden said in his inaugural address.

Morden added last week that the new council is excited and that economic development is a “serious priority for us.” Council wants responsible growth that honours the official community plan, he added.

One of the first tasks will be addressing Anita Place Tent City. The city has recently said it’s seeking a court order to address fire safety issues in the camp on 223rd Street.

Morden said closing tent city will be part of the community safety plan that’s currently being developed and will ensure people get the help they need. He said he’s met with several agencies that can provide long-term help to residents. The public will be able to comment on the safety plan before it’s finalized.

He added that he wants to ensure that Maple Ridge reaches its potential. “We need to make gains,” Morden said.

While October’s election marked the start of several careers, it also spelled the end of others.

Former two-term mayor Ernie Daykin, who tried a second time for mayor, said he wouldn’t be running again.

“That chapter’s closed,” Daykin said after the election.

“What I find disappointing or troubling … I can’t believe that my footware was a topic of some posts.”

Speirs, who served five terms as a councillor, has not said if he’s definitely done with being a candidate in some other later election, while Corisa Bell, Tyler Shymkiw and Bob Masse didn’t run for re-election.

Speirs, though, acknowledged Morden’s win and the numbers behind them.

“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.”

One of the first measures taken by the new council was the implementation of a new Council Code of Conduct, which spells out how politicians interact with each other, staff and the public.

As part of the civic election process, residents of Maple Ridge also voted on an accompanying referendum on municipal garbage pickup. But voters trashed the idea of instituting city-wide garbage collection. Currently, the city has no city-wide pickup, relying on a handful of garbage hauling companies to pick up trash at curbside.

The plebiscite that was conducted in tandem with the Oct. 20 civic election asked people if they would be willing to pay $270 annually for curbside pickup by a municipally run system.

But only 8,431 people said they’d be willing to do that.

When considered against the 20,123 people who voted, that’s still only a 42-per-cent vote in favour.

When considered against a city-wide total of approximately 60,000 eligible voters, only about 14 per cent were in favour of a city-run garbage and green waste collection system.

Given such results, Masse, who along with Bell, pushed for such a referendum, said it’s time to take the entire issue out to the curbside and forget about any city-wide garbage pickup in Maple Ridge, for a while.

“I don’t think this is a question that should be put to the public in a hurry,” Masse said.

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Newly elected Mayor Mike Morden with Judy Dueck, re-elected to council after a four-year absence. (THE NEWS/files)

Mike Morden, Ernie Daykin and Craig Speirs were all council veterans running to become Maple Ridge mayor. (THE NEWS/files)

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