WINCHESTER — North Dundas voters returned three of five familiar faces to the council table last night — even as the majority of positions saw change, including a new mayor in Tony Fraser and a new deputy mayor in Al Armstrong.
Both Fraser and Armstrong were successful in their bids to step up from councillor to higher roles. Fraser defeated another colleague, current deputy mayor Gerry Boyce, 2,436-1,582 (according to the still unofficial numbers) to take the mayor’s job being vacated by Eric Duncan, while Al Armstrong cruised to victory over Winchester resident Brad Pinch 3,078-886 to become deputy mayor.
Current councillor John Thompson was re-elected with 2,696 votes. Rookie Gary Annable captured the highest amount of support among all candidates to become councillor, with 3,346 votes, while Tyler Hoy took the third councillor’s spot at 1,522.
At 1,454 votes, Theresa Bergeron fell shy of election to council and placed fourth among councillor candidates. Also out of the running were Frank Fata (789) and Michael Trolly (690). And though he had ceased his campaign for personal reasons in late summer, candidate Tim Wasylko still managed to pull in 272 votes.
With the results still freshly announced at municipal headquarters, Fraser acknowledged he could never truly replace the outgoing mayor. “To fill those shoes, I don’t know if that’s possible, and that’s not my goal. I hope people understand that Eric Duncan was a special person and did a special job,” said the mayor-elect.
“I would like to think that I can at least come to some measure of what he’s been able to accomplish. But I don’t think it’s realistic to think that I’ll fill his shoes.”
“It was a very polite and respectful campaign,” Fraser said of his election over Boyce, an effort requiring “a lot of work on a lot of peoples’ part. “Personally, the support I received,” he said, adding he looked forward to working with the new council.
“It was a nice clean campaign,” agreed Boyce, now pondering the options for “reinventing himself” after eight years on council. “There was no dirt, no mud, nothing sneaky. Everything was above board.”
Boyce conceded being “disappointed and very surprised” at the election results. “I wasn’t expecting this. I was ready for victory based on what people told me everywhere I went,” he said at a post-election party at the Winchester Curling Club. “Who do you believe? I guess the electors are always right.”
“It’s time to move on to chapter two, whatever that is.”
He also expressed chagrin that only about half of eligible voters even bothered to participate. “People had all week to vote, and I was phoning and phoning, and they would say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to vote.’
“Well, they haven’t voted … and I know they didn’t vote.”
“I thought I had a good chance; I figured I wouldn’t place any worse than fourth,” said Tyler Hoy, when asked about his electoral success. “I’m happy anyways that I’m in,” he said, exclaiming with a smile: “Now I’ll really see what it entails!”
The Hallville-area farmer offered that his family’s long-time reputation and “being known” in the area helped him win, despite his evident discomfort on stage during the municipal debates.
Hoy also acknowledged the recent death of his mother caused him some hesitation about staying in the race but “had the support to continue on.” The late Dawna Hoy “would be happy, she would be proud,” said the councillor-elect.
A veteran local councillor and sometime critic of the United Counties government in Cornwall, Al Armstrong is now headed to represent North Dundas at the SDG table (along with Fraser). Asked if he would be “a bull in a China shop” at the upper tier, the deputy-mayor elect offered a conciliatory tone. “You’ve seen my attitude about some of the things the Counties do, but I’ve learned the art of taking other people’s opinions into consideration,” Armstrong said, describing himself as older than he once was and “excited to learn firsthand at the Counties.”
In the video below, the agony and the anticipation came to a head in North Dundas last night when North Dundas Clerk Jo-Anne McCaslin entered the council chambers with the results of the vote.
“Listen, their administration [at the Counties] has changed, and I’ve changed, so I think we’ll be in good shape.”
“I did have faith that the people of North Dundas would understand the difference between fact and fiction,” Armstrong said of his win over Pinch. “And I think my 18-year record [as councillor] stood for itself. People know what they get with me, and it’s been successful … and I haven’t changed.”
He expressed his pleasure with the incoming council, describing those elected as “a very good group of people that we have.”
“I think we’ll be able to preserve the work that we’re doing and have some new ideas, which is great. I think North Dundas is going to be in pretty good shape going forward. And we need a good group to mitigate the loss of Eric Duncan. They don’t come around very often.”
“They’ve got a good group in there. It’ll all be good,” said the current mayor in the first few minutes after the results were released.
A disappointed Frank Fata promised to try again in four years. “Win or lose, you run again in the next one,” Fata said. “I don’t regret it. It was interesting meeting all the different people, listening to their concerns. I just hope the candidates that got in follow through with what they say.”
“I feel like I actually accomplished something,” said Pinch at his attempt to become deputy mayor. The loss “isn’t going to stop me now,” he added. “I really wanted to do this in order to better the community. So the new council is really going to hate me because I’m going to be showing up all the time with an idea and something they need to follow up on.” Pinch expressed his pleasure at becoming better known in Winchester as a result of the campaign. “I think there were 100 people in town that knew me before I started, now there’s almost 900” he observed, laughing: “That’s pretty good!”
In school board elections, Larry Berry defeated incumbent trustee Jeremy Armer for Dundas County’s seat at the Upper Canada District School Board, 4,764-1,669.
“I pounded on 500 doors, put up 90 signs, and my competition … I didn’t see his advertising,” said Berry. “So a lot of people knew I wanted it,” added the retired principal.
English Separate School supporters in Dundas and Stormont counties re-elected trustee Karen McAllister who held off challenger Donna Nielsen, 1,120-837.
This article was edited to include McAllister’s win.