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Baldwin wins White Rock mayor's chair

Wayne Baldwin congratulates Louise Hutchinson, shortly after White Rock voters put Baldwin in the mayor
Wayne Baldwin congratulates Louise Hutchinson, shortly after White Rock voters put Baldwin in the mayor's chair and Hutchinson back on council.
— image credit: Alex Browne photo

White Rock’s former manager is its new mayor.

An hour after polls closed Saturday night, chief election officer Tracey Arthur announced Wayne Baldwin, city manager from 1983 to 2006, had received the top number of votes – 2,169 –  amongst four mayoral candidates.

Lynne Sinclair, a first-term councillor, collected 1,690 votes in her quest to be the city’s mayor; businessman Larry Anschell garnered 706.

Angelo Megla, who withdrew from the race earlier this month – but too late for his name to be removed from the ballot – received 24 votes.

Voter turnout in the city was 28.7 per cent; a drop of eight per cent from the 2008 election, when 36.86 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.

After receiving congratulatory hugs and handshakes at city hall – where more than three dozen people gathered as results came in – Baldwin told supporters at Uli’s on Marine Drive that “it was not an easy victory, but it’s a sweet one.”

“It was a clean victory,” he said in his celebration speech. “We did things the right way, and did it with class. We did not do it at a level that someone else did. The only time I did drop down – and gave Marc (Burchell, one of Baldwin’s two campaign managers) an apoplectic fit – was when I said, ‘Shut up, Lynne.’ But there was a ‘please’ attached, so don’t forget that.”

Peace Arch News caught up with Sinclair just after she gave her concession speech to supporters who joined her at Cosmos restaurant. She said she was surprised by Baldwin’s win, but accepted the results as what citizens of White Rock want.

“I always said that either way, I win. This way, I get my life back,” she said.

“I didn’t think negative campaigning would work very well in White Rock, but obviously it does,” she said. “He obviously ran a very slick, very expensive campaign. I guess it was effective.”

Sinclair said she is proud of what she accomplished in her term on council and wishes Baldwin the best. The new council will “have to hold Mr. Baldwin accountable,” she said.

Elected councillors are a mix of old and new.

Grant Meyer, who was first elected in a 2009 byelection to replace James Coleridge, garnered the most votes, 2,527, followed by former city councillor Louise Hutchinson with 2,275. Longtime councillor Mary-Wade Anderson is back in, after earning 2,213 votes; fellow incumbent Helen Fathers won 2,132 votes. Larry Robinson won the fifth-highest number of votes (1,921), followed by incumbent Al Campbell (1,888).

Meyer, Anderson and retiring councillor Doug McLean had endorsed Sinclair, while Fathers – who had campaigned alongside Sinclair in 2008, supported by Citizens for Positive Renewal – endorsed Baldwin.

Sinclair said Saturday that she was “shocked” Fathers – “someone who would anonymously blog and attack other councillors” – was re-elected, referring to an Oct. 20 PAN article, in which Fathers at first denied, then admitted to, making anonymous online comments.

Baldwin refuted the negativity claim Monday.

“I don’t know what (Sinclair) is thinking of, quite frankly,” he said. “The only negative campaigning that I can conceive of was that we mentioned her voting record on a couple things, which I don’t believe constitutes negative campaigning.

“We did not go into any personal issues or anything at all like that.”

Citing a tabloid-like circular that hit White Rock mailboxes last week, Baldwin said Sinclair’s own campaign turned “down and dirty” as election day neared. The circular included “some information that was questionable,” he said, referring to a description of the severance package he received in 2006.

Burchell said the mail-drop took the campaign to a personal level.

“A contrast was created between the right way of doing things and the wrong way of doing things,” Burchell said. “This negative piece that she put out helped us. People were stopping me saying they changed their vote as a result.”

In an email Sunday, Burchell thanked Sinclair for “her help.”

“I couldn’t have come up with a better tactic than the one in which you revealed your true nature for all to see,” he wrote.

Describing Burchell’s message as “terrible,” Sinclair said she has no regrets about how she ran her campaign. It was positive, “very factual” and “very clearly and very respectfully stated,” she said.

“I didn’t do any mud-slinging that I am aware of. Everything I printed was very factual and couched very carefully… and it was in response to what (Baldwin) started,” she said, referring to election ads that had accused her of “squandering city money.”

Anschell said he saw the negativity, but stayed out of it.

“I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. What White Rock needs is to put the petty politics aside,” he said.

While he did expect a tighter race, Anschell said the votes he received “were people that understood my vision and were willing to go with a new guy.”

Predicting Baldwin will be “a good mayor, fiscally,” Anschell didn’t rule out taking another run at council.

“Three years from now, if Wayne has done a good job… I wouldn’t tamper with it,” he said. “The city needs to move forward. I just hope that they do.”

The voting results are preliminary, Arthur said. While she doesn’t expect numbers to shift much, if at all, official results will be announced noon Wednesday.

The new council’s inaugural meeting is to be held Dec. 5 at the White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russell Ave.

- with files from Alex Browne

 

 

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