Sharie Minions has been re-elected as mayor of Port Alberni.
Preliminary results show that Minions garnered 2,524 votes in the 2022 municipal election, while her fellow candidate Tom Verbrugge received 2,358 votes.
Verbrugge had 810 votes in the advance polls, while Minions had 827. Election results are considered preliminary until they are officially declared, which has to happen by Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 4 p.m.
“I am so thrilled,” said Minions, who held a gathering with family, supporters and other council candidates at Brie and Barrel, a restaurant she owns with her husband Colin.
“We worked incredibly hard in this campaign and I’m happy to see a great turnout of voters. I’m happy to see some new faces on council and am thrilled to have another term to be able to serve this community.”
Minions will be joined by a newly elected council made up of Todd Patola (1,531 votes), Dustin Dame (1,603), Cindy Solda (2,083), John Douglas (1,576), Debbie Haggard (2,193) and Charles Mealey (2,222).
Mealey joined a few other candidates at the Alberni Athletic Hall on election night to hear the results announced. He said he was happy to see the results, but disappointed that his late grandmother wasn’t here to see them.
“I’m very happy that the community still remembers me,” he said. Mealey previously served as a city councillor for three terms between 1999-2008. “Congratulations to all of the other councillors. I’m looking forward to working with everybody.”
Debbie Haggard, who was re-elected for her second term on council, said she is “very honoured” to have the community put their trust in her.
“We’re going to continue the work we’ve been doing for the last four years,” she said. “I feel very excited to work with the new people on council.”
Haggard said she is looking forward to working with some younger members on council. She feels confident working with new councillors, both experienced and new to municipal politics. “I love diversity on our council,” she said. “Having youth on our council is a positive because this is who we’re doing the work for, is the youth in our community.”
Dame, who will be starting his first term on council, said he was driven to run for the role because he feels that Port Alberni is at “a bit of a crossroads” right now.
“I see a lot of opportunity for us to step into new and exciting things,” he said. “I saw the need for people to step up who saw that vision, so I decided to throw my hat into the ring.”
There’s been a pretty large learning curve, he added, but he has enjoyed the experience so far.
“I’ve been really lucky to have community leaders who have stepped up to offer their guidance,” he said. “I think this new council is a very dynamic group of people. I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Other candidates were Ron Paulson (1,479), Dan Washington (1,423), Michelle Bisaro (1,232), Terry Deakin (1,158), Seva Dhaliwal (1,135), Carol-Anne Zanette (982), Wendy Lee Kerr (974), Sandy McRuer (935), Char Patterson (883), Graham Hughes (829), Joshua Dahling (740), Sukdev Krishan (571), Jim Del Rio (471), Richard Huneault (460) and Peter Rueschmann (303).
Verbrugge, who was also at the Athletic Hall on Saturday night, said he was “very disappointed” with the results.
“But a 166 vote difference is pretty darn close,” he said. “It was a good run.”
The mayoral race had its share of controversy, most notably when the moderator of an all-candidates meeting was accused of bias over the questions he directed towards Verbrugge.
“I don’t know if that made any difference,” said Verbrugge.
In a statement released the next day, Verbrugge congratulated Minions on her successful re-election and “give her my best wishes and support to guide our city during her term in office.” He also congratulated re-elected and newly elected members of council, the ACRD and school board.
Minions said she and Tom “made an effort to be kind to each other” throughout the race.
“I really have a lot of respect for anyone who comes out, puts themself in a position to run,” she said. “Tom ran a great race. I appreciate that he put himself through this and his interest in the role.”
A total of 4,985 ballots were cast, out of an estimated 14,960 eligible voters, according to Civic Info BC.