The District of Lantzville already knew it was going to have a smaller council, now it knows the make-up of that council.
Mark Swain was elected as mayor of Lantzville on Saturday, leading a council that will include, in order of vote count, Jamie Wilson, Karen Proctor, Ian Savage and Will Geselbracht.
Swain said he felt like his campaign went well, but there’s always that unknown until the votes are counted.
“I had a very positive campaign. Every step of the way was positive and a lot of support from residents, so I felt good,” he said.
Swain said he thinks Lantzville residents were concerned about the way the municipality could develop and that was a factor in bringing them out to the polls. Lantzville’s voter turnout was 47.3 per cent.
Swain said the official community plan was a divisive issue in the campaign and said he’s personally opposed to looking at reopening the OCP for any significant changes.
“The residents have spoken, expressed what they want to see for development in our community and who are we now to make changes to that? For me, it just did not sit well.”
Swain said he sees “no issues” with the elected councillors being able to work as a cohesive group. He said he’ll be looking for positivity and transparency and an environment where no one around the table feels left out.
“That sometimes can create problems when some members of council – and it even happened during my last term – where some councillors have information and others don’t and it just leads to distrust amongst the group and ultimately that distrust leads to dysfunction,” Swain said.
Geselbracht is the only other returning member of Lantzville council, as Bob Colclough and Dot Neary were unsuccessful in their re-election bids.
Geselbracht said with Mayor Colin Haime and Coun. Denise Haime choosing not to seek re-election “it’s the end of an era for Lantzville” and he said he looks forward to working with Swain and the new additions to council.
“We will make sure that we work co-operatively, respectfully and civilly,” Geselbracht said. “I have no doubt that we will be able to work co-operatively. It’s in the best interests of the community.”
Geselbracht said it’s his wish that Lantzville council “continue with all of the great initiatives we put in place” during the current term, mentioning the implementation of the water agreement and the work of attracting development to the village core.
“It’s been Rip Van Winkle-like for the last 20 years and we now have [an] opportunity,” he said. “I’ve always said, I want to see a coffee shop, a bakery and a bike shop. Let’s start with those and we’ll go from there.”
With council shrinking from seven members to five, Geselbracht noted that there will be more work to go around as far as filling out committee seats. He hopes the new council can get through agenda items more efficiently.
“With five members, we should be able to get everybody’s idea succinctly and move ahead with that,” he said.
Swain said a smaller council does put “more of an onus” on its members to ensure each issue is thoroughly discussed.
“As mayor, it’s going to be really important for me to make sure that when we are discussing any issues, if there’s any inclination we don’t have enough information, or perhaps the conversation should continue, maybe at a later date, identify those times,” he said.
The new mayor and council will be sworn in Nov. 5 at Costin Hall. Sometime after that, said Swain, members will sit down and determine strategic priorities with short-term and long-term goals.
Colclough, runner-up in Lantzville’s mayoral race, released a statement to the News Bulletin, saying he was honoured to have been encouraged to run and thankful to those who supported him.
“I got labelled as ‘pro-development’ when in fact I am just pro-community and was just doing what I thought was best to ensure the community’s vision could be achieved,” he said. “The new council will have their hands full and I certainly wish them all the best.”
Swain finished with 833 votes compared to 531 for Colclough. Among councillors, Wilson led the polls with 859 votes; Proctor had 730; Savage, 645; and Geselbracht, 615. Among the candidates who weren’t elected, John Dunn was closest with 580 votes. Neary got 496 votes.