Voters indicated overwhelmingly that they wanted change by electing a new mayor and four new councillors during Monday’s municipal election.
First term councillor Sean McIntyre handily defeated incumbent mayor Susan Samson garnering over 71 per cent of the votes cast.
“I was totally taken back by the decisiveness of the election results,” he said during an interview Tuesday. “I was totally shocked by the outcome. Completely thankful for everyone’s support. I couldn’t imagine something so decisive, overwhelming.
He received 1,966 votes while Samson got 678 votes and Melesa Starcheski won 99 votes.
“Everything was coming back positive but you never really can tell until the votes are cast and counted,” he said. “I was taking nothing for granted, I was prepared for either result.”
Results were announced at the town’s Municipal Government Building after 13 of 14 polls had been counted, about 10:30 p.m. Monday night.
The jubilation was evident on McIntyre’s face as he realized he’d won. After hugging his tearful wife Leah, he accepted congratulations from Samson and others who had gathered waiting for results.
“Last night I spoke to Susan conveying my respect for her. The truth is she’s done so much work for this community over the years,” said McIntyre. “Her commitment to things like urgent care, lake health are a benefit to all of us. I believe she needs to be thanked for all of that.”
McIntyre said he’s “absolutely happy” with the candidates who have been elected. “I’m excited to get down to work with them.”
Megan Chernoff topped the poll for councillors with 1,817 votes. Graham Parsons placed second with 1,432, Jas Payne was third with 1,372, Matt Prete was fourth with 1,237, Christina Lust was fifth with 1,229 and Dale Plante was sixth with 1,165 votes. Unsuccessful candidates were incumbent Rick Grimson with 1,029 votes, Wendy Sauvageau (964), Charlie Everest (880) and Neil Evans (869).
Marilee Littman, executive assistant to mayor and council, reported 2,855 ballots were cast. With 9,500 eligible voters that was a turnout of 30.07 per cent down from 31.2 per cent of voters who cast ballots (2,355) in the 2010 election.
“I was certainly looking forward to a marked increase in voter turnout,” said McIntyre. “At the end of the day it’s each resident’s decision whether they want to participate in democracy or not. My job is to represent every one of them whether they voted or not.”
McIntyre is raring to get going. He planned to be in the office Wednesday to meet with Betty Osmond, the town’s chief administrative officer and prepare for the organization meeting and swearing in of council on Monday, Oct. 28.
“First on my list is to start a relationship with the new council. I’m hoping to work with them to bring out the best in us for the good of the community,” he said. “Make sure we’re functioning in our strengths. It’s a diverse team.”
Communications is one of the items McIntyre featured in his campaign. “Communications change starts immediately with council, internal implementation of a communications strategy,” he said.
“I predict the public will notice change right away with external communications. As mayor, communications coming from the municipal government comes through my position. It’s something I know I can affect directly and I’m excited I can start on that right away.”
Urgent care is another priority for our local government. “I’ll be meeting with the committee and doing everything I can to throw my weight behind that effort. It’s something we need immediately.”
McIntyre resigned from his job as an insurance broker at Sylvan Agencies in September after deciding to seek the mayor’s position. “I had a huge amount of support from the owners to pursue the mayor’s office,” he said.
“Now it’s down to work. That’s what I’m really excited about, to work for the people, it’s an honour.”
He plans to “devote a huge amount of time” to the position. “I think Sylvan Lake deserves it. You’ve got a lot of work to do, not only in change, but in day-to-day operations. The mayor needs to be attentive and in tune with everything that’s happening.”
Commenting on his campaign, McIntyre thanked his wife Leah, “who’s been with me every step of the way and so supportive. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Likewise his parents and brother “have been amazing”. And “other candidates for council have been supportive and encouraging. It’s going to be exciting to work with them.”
His brother Edward “worked tirelessly on his campaign material and website”. McIntyre also thanked Dan Weik for helped with his campaign.
In a message to residents on Facebook, Samson congratulated McIntyre and new council members.
“Thank you to the residents for the privilege of allowing me to be part of the governance of this community. “
“We have accomplished so much and have so much to be proud of. 100 years strong!”
She added, “as a community supporter for the past 33 years, I will continue volunteering in the areas that are meaningful to all of us.”
The Sylvan Lake Vote
MAYOR (One Elected)
Sean McIntyre – 1,966
Susan Samson – 678
Melesa Starcheski – 99
COUNCIL (Six Elected)
Megan Chernoff – 1,817
Graham Parsons – 1,432
Jas Payne – 1,372
Matt Prete – 1,237
Christina Lust – 1,229
Dale Plante – 1,165
Rick Grimson – 1,029
Wendy Sauvageau – 964
Charlie Everest – 880
Neil Evans – 869