Dan Curtis was given an early birthday present by the people of Whitehorse last night.
After winning the mayoral race, he’ll be sworn in as mayor on Oct. 29, the day before his 47th birthday.
“I’m really excited and really humbled that the citizens of Whitehorse gave me their trust and I’m not going to abuse that and I’m really going to try hard to keep it,” said Curtis.
It was a landslide victory for the executive director of Skills Canada Yukon.
The unofficial election results put him more than 1,000 votes ahead of the second-place mayoral candidate Rick Karp.
For his first order of business, Curtis plans to work to foster an atmosphere of collaboration on council. Then he wants to reach out to the public and find out what’s really important to them.
“From what I’ve heard, knocking on doors and talking to an awful lot of people, they just honestly don’t feel that their voices are being heard,” said Curtis.
He plans to put on informal, town-hall-style meetings outside of the council chambers to give people who may be too intimidated by the formality of a regular council meeting a chance to be heard.
“I think what we need to do is show the citizens of Whitehorse that we’re really serious about listening to their concerns and acting on them,” he said.
It was a hard-fought campaign, with rumours of improper political influence levelled against Curtis. Clearly, though, it didn’t hurt his chances.
With 2,375 votes in the unofficial count, Curtis more than doubled Bernie Phillips’ third-place showing. Scott Howell came in fourth with 587 votes, while Mandeep Sidhu brought up the rear with 480 votes.
It took a long time for all the ballots to be counted. It was close to midnight when the final results were tallied.
It’s something Robert Fendrick, the city’s director of corporate services, attributed to the higher-than-usual voter turnout.
Forty-three per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot yesterday. That’s up from 37 per cent in the last full municipal election, and more than double the turnout of the byelection last year.
Of the six councillors voted in last night, John Streicker proved most popular with almost 3,000 votes.
Though he has a partisan stripe, having run under the Green Party banner in three federal elections, it’s not something he plans to bring to council.
“I’ve got a really good ability to remove politics from leadership,” he said. “My way is to try to build more collaboration and to try to build a team and to try to work together.”
It’s a style that will jive well with Coun. Kirk Cameron, who came in third behind fellow incumbent Betty Irwin, with 2,363 votes.
That’s almost 2,000 more votes than the 400 Cameron received to win the byelection last year.
“It’s a real statement to me,” he said. “It says that there are a lot of Whitehorse residents that like the approach that I’ve taken coming in to council.”
Looking at the makeup of this council, Cameron said he’s optimistic about this next term.
“I think there will be some real energy here with this group,” he said. “I think it will work really well.”
Jocelyn Curteanu came in fourth with 2,137 votes. She’s the first person of Filipino descent to sit on council.
“It’s amazing, it’s empowering,” she said. “Now I don’t have to complain behind closed doors. Now I can actually tell someone and get something done.”
Longtime councillor Dave Stockdale held on to his seat with 1,650 votes. It will be his 11th-consecutive term.
The unofficial results have Mike Gladish as the sixth councillor, but with only two votes separating him from Roslyn Woodcock, a recount is already underway.
“Until the recount has been completed, all results will remain unofficial,” said Norma Felker, the city’s chief returning officer. “The recount will take at least one full day so we won’t be releasing official results until next week.”
Now that the election is over, the real work begins, but spirits are running high.
“I’m incredibly optimistic,” said Curtis. “I think Whitehorse is in for some really, really, really good change.”
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