City councillor Bill McKay is the new mayor of Nanaimo.
McKay won the mayoral seat Saturday with 30 per cent of the vote, defeating runners up Bill Holdom and Roger McKinnon, unofficial election results show.
He also unseats two-term mayor John Ruttan, who came fourth in the vote count.
Joining McKay will be three incumbents, including top vote getter Bill Bestwick, Jim Kipp and Diane Brennan, who eked out a 100-vote win over Fred Pattje. Also at the council table will be Bill Yoachim, Wendy Pratt, Jerry Hong, Ian Thorpe and Gord Fuller.
“I’m just absolutely over the moon right now and I have to say, somewhat humbled as well,” said McKay, shortly after the win. “The fact that this community and thousands and thousands of people would go out and put their confidence in me and the team they’ve assembled for me, I think that’s absolutely fantastic news.”
McKay, a first-term city councillor prior to becoming mayor-elect, won 6,400 votes – surging ahead of second-place finisher Holdom, who had 4,265 votes and McKinnon with 3,381. Ruttan came in fourth with 3,212 votes.
McKay said he was stunned his messaging resonated with as many people as it did, and wants to now become the “most approachable mayor Nanaimo has ever seen.”
Ruttan, who was at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre Saturday as the results came in, said he was disappointed, but wishes McKay every success.
“The vote was very much in favour of Bill McKay and … I think he worked very hard in the campaign, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “I wish him well.”
Fifth time was the charm for city watcher Gord Fuller, who will be taking a seat at the council table for the first time. He called his win surreal and said he believes more and more people have recognized he’s the real deal.
“I actually walk the walk and I am out there and I’m doing things and have been,” he said. “I think they see that I have been able to make change over the years not being on council and they see that as a reason for me to be on council.”
Wendy Pratt, the executive director of Nanaimo Community Hospice Society, said she’s retiring from the organization which has been her heart and soul for 15 years and she sees council as a continuation of service to the community.
“I know it’s going to be a big learning curve and I’m just ready to do the work,” she said.
“I’ve got the skills, I’ve got the time, I’ve got the commitment, the energy, I’ve got all of that.”
According to the City of Nanaimo, this election saw voter turnout reach 34.7 per cent, compared to 26.9 per cent in 2011.
Results are still considered preliminary and will be confirmed Wednesday (Nov.19) when the count is finalized.
For a full list of the election results, please visit the city’s website at www.nanaimo.ca.
For more on McKay’s priorities as mayor, please see page 3.