Retired Lake Cowichan businessman and former town councillor Rod Peters was elected mayor Lake Cowichan in a tight race Saturday, Oct. 20.
It had been a clash of the titans at the Lake, with three popular candidates vying for the mayor’s chair. And, as is traditional in the community, there was a good voter turnout, with 49 per cent of eligible voters casting ballots.
But, when the whirring stopped and the computer kicked out the figures at Centennial Hall, Peters emerged as the winner with 479 votes in total: 365 on Saturday and 114 in the advance polls.
Bob Day who had been serving as a town councillor before trying for the position of mayor garnered a total of 435 votes: 302 on voting day, and 133 at the advance poll.
Incumbent mayor Ross Forrest was just behind with 408 votes in total: 308 on Saturday, and 100 in the advance polls.
Peters will be leading an experienced council as he starts his mayoralty.
Incumbents Tim McGonigle (618+207=825), Lorna Vomacka (600+196=796), and Carolyne Austin (483+168=651) were all re-elected, with former councillor Kristine Sandu (471+157=628) taking the fourth place at the table.
The other hopefuls also did well, with Rocky Wise garnering 477 total votes, Beverly North 397, Loretta Puckrin 347, and Janet Kirk, who had to withdraw still collecting 175 votes.
At the Lake, the “yes” side took both referendums, although the only figures that will count are the final, regional ones.
Peters was excited by the result and so were his supporters. Everyone was headquartered at the Riverside Inn but when it became known that he had won, there were lots of cheers from among the crowd as people hurried over to exchange hugs or shake the hand of the new mayor.
It had been very different earlier when, at the Lake’s poll, at Centennial Hall, there was quiet as both Day and Forrest heard the figures announced. However, both showed up later at the Riverside to congratulate Peters and his new council.
Peters was up for a quick interview before he got back to his supporters.
“I’m quite excited. It was a good campaign. I think now that the fun is over the hard work’s going to start but I think I’m up for it and I’m going to try my best for the taxpayers of this town.”
Peters did not use social media or anything like that for his campaign. Did he think that was part of his successful bid?
“It’s not why I was successful. I just didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to go on Facebook and put on there things that I might regret somewhere down the road. I just ran a campaign. My social media is face-to-face. Anybody wants to know anything, come and see me and I’ll talk to them.”
“I am excited. I may look a little bit calm but there’s a lot going on in my mind right now. I’ve got lots to deal with but I think I’m up for the task.”
Asked what he heard when he was out talking with voters, Peters said, “They said it was time for a change and they needed a businessman to be in there to control the monies and what happens in the council.”
Peters was pleased with his new council.
“I think it’s a pretty good team. I’ve worked with Tim and Lorna a lot, and I was involved with Kristine Sandhu back in the late 90s. I think we can all get along.”
What does he see as some of the number one things on his agenda?
“Right now, my number one thing is the entrance into town, South Shore Road, with the bad vision coming in. People can’t see the traffic coming. There are some left turn lanes that we need through town and we have a problem down by the high school at Stone Avenue. That’s a bit of a bear of an intersection that needs to be dealt with as immediately as possible.”
On the big subject of a new municipal hall, Peters dropped a new idea into the mix at the all-candidates meeting Oct. 15 and he wants council to look at it.
“I have put forward an idea to stop the fixing of the municipal hall and moving it [instead] into the Kingdom Hall, [located right behind Darling Tire on Neva Road]. It is almost turnkey to be a new office and it’s only about $400K where the renovations to the town hall were going to be about $1.8 million. It’s empty now and it’s for sale.”
Peters then thanked his friends and family for all their support, “especially my wife for putting up with me the last little while, and I hope not to disappoint anybody when I get in at the mayor.”