Dave Lane, Art Puddister fill spots vacated by Sheilagh O’Leary, Gerry Colbert
St. John’s council newcomer Dave Lane — one of two new at-large councillors, along with Art Puddister — says he’s eager to “hit the ground running.”
“I’ve been working at this for about three years,” he said. “I’m already on three committees at city hall, so the next thing is now to get myself oriented and have my first council meeting on Oct. 7.”
Lane said starting work on his campaign early was key to the victory.
“We had such a great team. We got out early in the race,” he said. “We launched in April, and we’ve just been working hard. A lot of social media, a lot of door-to-door, a lot of public events, really getting the word out. But I also think that people were enthusiastic about our campaign. The work we did with Happy City and the work that I’ve been doing to really make a difference for young people as well being part of the process, I think that got people excited about the future of our city.”
Deanne Stapleton, the sole female candidate for the at-large position, lamented the lack of a female voice on the newly elected council. “I guess (voters) wanted an male-dominated council. I guess they didn’t want a woman on council, sitting at the table,” she said, adding that she thinks it will be eight to 12 years before there’s another woman on council. “Usually when you’re in there, you’re an incumbent, you have a better chance of winning.”
Stapleton acknowledged that part of the problem was that there were few female candidates to begin with.
“There has to be a committee or some kind of workshop set up within the next four years, starting, really, tomorrow to get women interested in elections, no matter if it’s municipal, provincial or federal, and we’ve got to start encouraging women to start thinking about putting their name on the ballot.”
Re-elected at-large councillor Tom Hann scored the top vote total among the candidates, followed by fellow incumbent Sandy Hickman.
“It’s been a very successful four years,” said Hann. “It’s always humbling when the people of the city put you as the top vote-getter. I feel really good about it, but what I’m excited about now is the future.”
Hann said as soon as the new council is sworn in they’ll get back to work on the new municipal plan, which he says will be the most important document for the city for the next four years.
“We’ve been working on that for over a year,” he said, adding that the plan is behind schedule because of just how much public consultation has been done. “We hope to have a draft probably next month.”
Defeated candidate Fred Winsor said he was happy with his campaign, despite the loss.
“We ran a great campaign — we had a great team, and we tried to run it on issues, not personalities,” he said, adding that the issues he raised — affordable housing and greater city accessibility — were the right ones. “I don’t see anybody who got elected, pretty much anyway, who’s really interested in those sorts of issues.”