Russ Arnott, who has served two terms as councillor, has been elected as the mayor of Comox in Saturday’s municipal election.
The unofficial results were announced shortly after 8:30 p.m. at the Comox Recreation Centre, where Arnott garnered 2,715 votes (61.8 per cent). The town’s other mayoral candidate, Tom Diamond, received 1,626 votes.
“(I’m) elated,” said Arnott shortly after the results were announced and thanked Diamond for his campaign. “I will work towards making Comox a better place. As we move forward, we had some great momentum going forward in the last four years. Mayor (Paul) Ives has done a good job with council that I was on, and we’re going to move that forward.”
Arnott noted Comox residents are generally happy with the town, as it is debt-free, has a low tax rate and there is a balance between growth and change in the downtown core.
He added there will be a good combination between two incumbent councillors – Maureen Swift and Ken Grant – along with four new faces.
“I think that we’ll be able to take the four newcomers and we’ll be able to mesh that into a quite a nice council. Having that new younger vibe into Comox … I think this is going to be a good thing for the community. If you think the last four years were good, the next four years are going to be even better.”
Diamond said he knew he was a longshot and the odds were against him in the mayoral race, but still “wanted to fight the good fight, bring the issues to the table and make them more heard.”
The newcomer to political life said the race was a great experience and found the town has a strong thirst for change.
“You can see that a third of the population wants change, that’s what my vote represented – it was kind of a referendum on change. At least I’m very proud it wasn’t an acclamation for Russ, that I gave him a run for his money, that I brought issues to the table that I think Russ will consider seriously – maybe more seriously with more weight now that there’s a number of folks that said ‘we want change. ’”
The six councillors (out of nine on the ballot) elected to the Comox council table are (in order of most votes received):
Alex Bissinger – 2,807
Pat McKenna – 2,748
Nicole Minions – 2,654
Maureen Swift – 2,613
Ken Grant -2,472
Stephanie McGowan – 2,242
Chris Haslett received 1,877 votes, Don Davis received 1,605 votes and Ron Freeman received 1,603 votes.
Tonia Frawley was elected School District 71 trustee over Randi Baldwin with 2,162 votes to 1,128.
Current Comox Mayor Paul Ives, who announced over the summer he would not be seeking re-election in the municipal election, said Saturday night the combination of new and experienced councillors elected is good for the town.
“There’s three councillors under the age of 40, there’s three new women which is awesome … and the experienced incumbents in Ken and Maureen. Russ has experience and a good handle on what goes on in town hall and working with staff. He’ll hit the ground running. There’s a certain amount of continuity, but some change is coming.”
There are 11,169 eligible voters in Comox, and 4,392 total ballots were cast – a 39.3 per cent voter turnout.