“I now know what it’s like to wait for a jury as an accused person,” said a happy and relieved Nils Jensen just moments after discovering he was elected the next mayor of Oak Bay.
Jensen spoke to a crowd of supporters gathered at the Oak Bay Bistro Saturday night as the election’s results came in.
He will take over from Christopher Causton as Oak Bay mayor after Causton retires Dec. 5. Jensen won the mayoralty race with 3,197 votes to Hazel Braithwaite’s 2,769.
Voter turnout in Oak Bay was 42.05 per cent, up from 36 per cent in 2008. Thirty-four voters took advantage of mail-in ballots, being used for the first time in Oak Bay. A total of 6,029 ballots were cast, 995 in the advance polls.
John Herbert has sat on Oak Bay council since 1999 and will continue to do so for the next three years, now that he has been re-elected. Joining Herbert will be incumbents Tara Ney and Pam Copley. Newly elected councillors are Cairine Green, Michelle Kirby and Kevin Murdoch.
“Time will tell” what the new council will become, said Herbert, joking, “Anybody who puts their name forward shows some dedication to cruel and unusual punishment.”
“It’s a real honour for me to be in a position to lead that new, energetic council. … I feel privileged,” Jensen said.
Challenges ahead include keeping municipal taxes down. “Our biggest hurdle is our static tax base,” said Herbert. “All of our expenses are going up: the cost of gravel, the cost of pipes, the cost of fuel. Our municipal workers, bless them all, their wages increase every year. Holding taxes to a reasonable level will be a struggle.”
Herbert said the best thing about Oak Bay is the speed at which council can affect change. He related a story of sitting at the barber getting his hair cut when he heard from another customer about a hole in the sidewalk near Windsor Park. “I got the barber to hand me my cellphone and called Phil (Barnett, superintendent of public works) down at public works and told him about it.”
After his haircut Herbert drove up to the site to take a look at it himself. “It already had a barricade around it – that’s hard to do in a big municipality,” he said.
Leaving council after two terms and challenging Jensen for the mayor’s chair, Braithwaite said she was proud of her campaign.
“It was a very close race. I’m truly, extremely proud of how the campaign team did. The team who worked with me ran an ethical, high-value campaign and I could not have asked for more – except maybe to win,” she said.
Braithwaite will continue to be involved in the community through volunteer work. “I’ll miss being at the council table. It will leave a big hole, but I’ll fill it with other things,” she said.
She is pleased with the number of candidates who turned out for the race. “It’s not always an easy job. I congratulate all the successful candidates and I’m sure they’ll do their best for Oak Bay.”
Click here to see the number of votes for each candidate and a video of Jensen’s speech after hearing he was elected.
By the numbers
Where the mayoral candidates won their votes:
• Emmanuel Baptist (north OB): 18%
• Monterey school (south OB): 22%
• Monterey rec centre (south OB): 42%
• Emmanuel Baptist: 26%
• Monterey school: 22%
• Monterey rec centre: 33%
Additional votes came from advance, mail-in ballots. Percentages were rounded.