Oak Bay voters gave incumbent Mayor Nils Jensen a decisive victory in Saturday’s municipal elections.
The unofficial results give Jensen 3,640 votes, ahead of Cairine Green’s 2,197 and David Shebib with 102.
Jensen said he was humbled by the support of the voters but not surprised.
“We heard a lot of support at the doorstep, two-to-one at the doorstep at least,” said Jensen, as he arrived for his victory celebration at the Penny Farthing Pub.
The one-term mayor said his handling of the deer issue is what he believes resonated most with the voters, who he also believes were looking for experience.
“People have generally been happy over the last three years with what council has done,” said Jensen. “People didn’t have a lot of gripes, and in that kind of situation they go with the incumbent.”
He sees the results as a mandate to move ahead on the three most pressing issues facing the community: the deer issue; changes to the Official Community Plan; and dealing with the regional sewage problem. He expects the new council will move forward quickly on those issues.
“The deer [cull], hopefully if we get the permit, will be early on in the new year. When we have our planner in place, that’s the first job he or she will have, implementing the community plan. And I’ll go to the CRD and I’ll do my darndest to get a sewage treatment agreement between all the seven core members,” said Jensen.
While Jensen put some distance between his competitors in the final results, his main challenger wasn’t far away once the votes were counted, as Green also spent election night with her supporters at the Penny Farthing.
“We ran a great race, I had a wonderful team of volunteers, I’m very grateful to all of them,” said Green, who also expressed her gratitude to the Oak Bay voters who threw their support behind her.
“I think I raised the stakes in this election. I wanted to give people a choice and I think- that’s what I did. I think people really had to think about their vote this time,” she said.
Green agreed with Jensen that the deer issue was what likely swayed voters to the incumbent.
“I’m very sad that it came down to the deer because there are so many other very serious issues facing this community. I hope we don’t focus on deer, I hope we focus on other very serious issues.”
Green, who currently sits on council, gave some parting advice to the incoming council: “Vote your conscience, do your homework and make sure you communicate with your residents,” she said.
Incumbent Kevin Murdoch topped the polls with 3,875 votes, and will be joined by fellow incumbents Tara Ney (3,411 votes) and Michelle Kirby (2,587). Former councillor Hazel Braithwaite (3,546) returns to the council table along with newcomers Eric Zhelka (2,584) and Tom Croft (2,549). Sigurd Johannesen (2,165), Andrew Stinson (2,053), Heather Holmes (2,040), Jan Mears (1,265) and Joan Russow (995) fell short in their bid to be elected.
“It’s going to be a very good council to work with. The incumbents were all returned,” said Jensen.
“I know Tom Croft has been very much a part of the community association and he bring a lot of experience and knowledge of the community with him to the council table with him. Hazel Braithwaite is kind of an incumbent, she was there six years. She brings experience, knowledge of the community.”
Incoming councillor Eric Zhelka is also no stranger to council, making several appearances before council, which Jensen called “very interesting.”
“I think once he starts working with us on a variety of issues, hopefully he’ll be as collaborative as the rest of council,” said the mayor.
Oak Bay voters rejected amalgamation by a 62 per cent margin, 3,594 to 2,184. Voter turnout was estimated to be 42.9 per cent, slightly higher than the 42 per cent who voted in the 2011 civic elections.