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UPDATED: Wilson, Zarrillo win Coquitlam council byelection
Two candidates elected to Coquitlam city council in a byelection last Saturday will be sworn into office next month.
Former Olympic wrestler Chris Wilson and Bonita Zarrillo, a business owner, will take their seats at the council table on Nov. 18.
The union-endorsed pair, who have no municipal government experience, edged out two former incumbents to take the positions left vacant by Linda Reimer and Selina Robinson — both of whom were elected MLAs in May's provincial election.
Wilson collected 3,826 votes (25.99% of votes cast) while Zarrillo tallied 2,648 (17.99%). They were followed most closely by former city councillors Doug Macdonell at 2,109 (14.33%) and Barrie Lynch at 1,760 (11.96%).
Taking the remainder of the votes, in order, were: Teri Towner, Vincent Wu, Ben Craig, Ben B.H. Kim (a Port Moody resident), Michael Bell, Kurt Zaporozan and Kevin Startin.
Speaking from an election wrap party at Original Joe's restaurant Saturday night, Wilson attributed his success to his campaign volunteers — and to knocking on 4,000 doors. "I fought so hard," he said, "and I'm just so thankful for all the hard work that everybody did."
As for his next steps, Wilson said of his council duties, "I've got lots to learn and to catch up on."
Added Zarrillo, "I feel like the campaign went very well. There was a lot of door knocking and I got to talk to a lot of people. Now, I'll be working for the citizens of Coquitlam who told me about their concerns and thoughts about the city."
The pair did not have a traditional campaign strategy: They opened an office — not typically seen in Coquitlam byelections — in which they had an automated telephone calling system; they also did not advertise in local newspapers, post lawn signs or mail out brochures. As well, both had websites to raise cash.
On Monday, Wilson told The Tri-City News he and Zarrillo shared resources, which included hiring a campaign co-ordinator and a strategist, and relied on the expertise of Robinson and Fin Donnelly, the NDP MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam.
He said the CUPE locals provided some money toward their campaigns.
According to the city's byelection website, just 8,036 of 87,064 of eligible voters cast ballots — and that 9.23% turnout was a record for Coquitlam byelections.
By comparison, in the 2010 byelection to replace Donnelly, the city recorded a 7.5% voter turnout (in a vote that included referendum questions on the ballot) and in a 2007 council byelection, just 4.9% of eligible voters filled out ballots. General civic elections have in recent years drawn about 20% voter turnout.
The cost of this byelection isn't yet known but the 2010 byelection cost Coquitlam taxpayers $142,000.
The unofficial results from the city's website:
CANDIDATE VOTES PERCENTAGE
Chris Wilson 3,826 25.99
Bonita Zarrillo 2,648 17.99
Doug Macdonell 2,109 14.33
Barrie Lynch 1,760 11.96
Teri Towner 1,470 9.99
Vincent Wu 703 4.78
Ben Craig 691 4.69
Ben B.H. Kim 588 3.99
Michael Bell 444 3.02
Kurt Zaporozan 259 1.76
Kevin Startin 221 1.5