The only two incumbents running topped the polls in Saturday’s election of Municipality of North Cowichan councillors.
Rob Douglas led the way with 4,223 votes while Kate Marsh stood second with 3,821.
The four newcomers to council include: Christopher Justice (3,486), Tek Manhas (3,1010), Rosalie Sawrie (3,009) and Debra Toporowski (2,916).
Vote totals for the remainder of the field that didn’t make it onto council were: Marilyn Palmer (2,880), John Koury (2,818), Paul Fletcher (2,786), Dave Haywood (1,969), Peter W. Rusland (1,909), Pat Hrushowy (1,559), Catherine Pastula (1,351) and Nick Caumanns (1,230).
“It feels good, just really appreciative of all the support from the residents of North Cowichan,” said Douglas of his return to council.
“Having only two incumbents, I think definitely helped the two of us that ran for election,” he added.
Douglas is looking at this as a fresh start in many ways for council, as he heads into his second term.
“I’m excited about it,” he indicated. “It gives you a renewed sense of energy. I’m born and raised here and don’t plan on going anywhere.”
Douglas would like to help set a framework for a bright future for his children and others, but acknowledged there are many challenges ahead.
“The last four years we’ve made some real progress,” he noted.
“We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s still a lot of work ahead of us.”
Affordable housing, or the lack thereof, remains a primary concern for North Cowichan as it does for municipalities around the province right now.
“It’s pretty clear there’s an expectation we’re going to play an important role in that,” said Douglas.
He cited the Willow Street project in Chemainus and Sherman Road complex in Duncan as a great start in that direction, sure to be followed by more undertakings.
The homeless issue that’s followed closely behind the lack of affordable housing also needs to be addressed, Douglas acknowledged.
“I’m looking forward to working with the whole council,” he enthused. “We all bring different strengths to the table and different perspectives.
“I know all of them at some level.”
Mayor elect Al Siebring congratulated the returning council members and newcomers. He intended to meet with them one-on-one in the lead-up to the swearing-in ceremony Nov. 7.
“Just as important I need to know what (they’re) absolutely not interested in,” Siebring said.
He wants to ensure he does a proper job of team building.
“Let’s build a collective identity, figure out who we are and what we can collaboratively agree to and let’s move in that direction,” Siebring said. “I think it’s important to govern as a group rather than as seven individuals.”
One of his main tasks will be to see who’s best suited to serve on which committee or board.
”To me, part of good leadership is bringing out the best in your people,” Siebring conceded.
“We have a council that is diverse, intelligent and representative of many broad interests in our community,” he added.
“It’s a diverse council ethnically and a somewhat diverse council based on their perspective.”