After a gruelling seven-and-a-half hour count at the voting station, Ron Oszust came out on top, taking the Mayoral seat with 848 votes, beating out competitor Keith Hern with 437 votes.
“I’m always cautious. That first box felt good, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions,” said Oszust, who was in the lead after the first box was counted.
The final tally came in at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. A high voter turnout, 1,268 up from 850 in 2011, a large number of names on the ballots, and limited workers to do the counting resulted in an all-night session at the Golden Civic Centre with candidates eagerly awaiting numbers on the other side of the room.
Oszust’s lead remained steady throughout the evening, but council on the other hand, came down to the very last box. Candidates Lori Baxendale and Bruce Fairley were neck and neck. With just 13 extra votes, Fairley took the sixth spot with 597.
Incumbent Connie Barlow had the most votes of the night with 835, followed by the youngest new councillor, 23-year-old Eddie Leigan with 806, Chris Hambruch with 802, Leslie Adams with 751, and Caleb Moss with 626.
The race for Area A Director of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District also had a photo finish. Karen Cathcart won by a margin of 22 votes with 348, narrowly beating out incumbent Garry Habart with 326.
Even though Habart had the edge in Nicholson and Parson, Cathcart received 100 per cent of the vote in Field, and a higher percentage at the Golden Civic Centre.
It has been a long campaigning period for all the candidates, and Oszust, who has been through multiple elections, said that social media played a larger role this time around than it ever has.
“My campaigning experience was pretty positive overall, and the social media aspect was massive,” he said. “It was a very good tool to reach a mass audience…and I think it impacted the large voter turnout we had this year.”
Now that the election is over, and the anticipation is gone, it’s time for the new mayor and council to settle into their new roles. Their first meeting, and swearing in, will be on Dec. 2 at the Golden Civic Centre.
“It feels great, but now there’s work to be done, so let’s get it done. We have an amazing team, Karen Cathcart as Area A Director included, and I’m very excited for the next four years,” said Oszust.
“Thank you thank you thank you to the entire community. I can’t single anybody out, everyone has been wonderful. I also want to thank Mike (Pecora) for his years of service, and all of the Town staff who worked so hard on voting day.”
To see the full results from the 2014 Municipal Election, go to www.thegoldenstar.net, and click on the “Election 2014” icon.