The preliminary results are in and there are two new faces around the Oak Bay council table.
Longtime councillor Hazel Braithwaite took the top vote of 2,966 followed by newcomer Carrie Smart with 2,941, incumbents Cairine Green at 2,928 and Andrew Appleton at 2,916 followed by newcomer Lesley Watson at 2,499 and incumbent Esther Paterson rounding the table with 2,157 votes.
Braithwaite sees two new faces as a statement by voters, she told Oak Bay News after the numbers were released. She hopes council continues to be one that can come to the table with differing opinions and discuss ideas and information – at times changing minds. “It’s a collaboration of votes around the table,” she said. “We all come with individual thoughts based on information from our constituents.”
Incumbent Eric Wood Zhelka did not make the cut with 2,042 votes followed by Roxanne Helme with 2,013 and Raymon Farmere at 565.
“Oak Bay is in good hands,” Zhelka said as the Oak Bay results were revealed late Saturday night. Not being on council will afford him to spend more time with family and get to the many tasks awaiting him at home. Zhelka will stop putting off committing as a scout leader for his son’s troop.
Paterson is sad to see him go, voicing appreciation for the work he’s done in his four years.
“The big challenge we’re going to face is resources,” she said, sitting in the upper mezzanine at the Penny Farthing pub election night. A lack of skilled labour is a challenge across Canada, Paterson said. From parks to infrastructure replacement “getting skilled people especially for small communities is going to be a challenge.”
Mayor Kevin Murdoch was acclaimed as he ran unopposed. In 2018 he garnered nearly 70 per cent of the vote.
From watching the campaign, he feels the new council will continue the path the previous council maintaining housing, infrastructure funding and parks as priorities. He notes two new councillors worked hard to get elected, and the full council will need to work hard the next four years to restore a connection with the community he sees lost during the pandemic.
The lack of mayoral race may mean a lower voter turnout than 2018 when the eligible voter turnout was 53 per cent, a full 18 per cent higher than than the average B.C. municipal turnout of 35 per cent.
This election 4,583 estimated 14,132 eligible voters cast ballots putting Oak Bay’s voter turnout at roughly 31 per cent.
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