Lehman re-elected mayor of Barrie
By Laurie Watt and Janis Ramsay Barrie Advance
For the first time since the turn of the century, Barrie voters have re-elected their mayor: Jeff Lehman will return for a second term.
But the 2014 issues also matter, with affordable housing topping the list.”I’ve broken the sophomore jinx. This is truly, truly humbling. This is not a vote for the status quo,” he told his supporters at 9:50 p.m, adding he simply sought a second term to continue the change he was elected to do four years ago.
“I was humbled four years ago that people put their confidence in me,” he said.
Then, he garnered 39 per cent of the vote, but now his margin is up near 90 per cent.
“This is bigger than we hoped for. You never take elections for granted. We worked so hard. We went knocking on doors until after 7 p.m to get the last voters out.”
He said his campaign resonated with residents who want to see Barrie grow smarter, rather than faster.
He added he’s looking forward to working with many of the same councillors: all but two incumbents sought their seats. A third, Ward 6 Coun. Michael Prowse, was acclaimed.
That kept Lehman humble.
“As big as 91 per cent is (as of 10 p.m), Michael got 100 per cent,” he said.
“I have been hugely privileged to work with a team that came together on my agenda, who left personal (issues) and politics at the door. Most of all, we had a sense of humour.
“To see so many returning is a joy, because it will make the job easier and a lot more fun.”
In Ward 1, Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth took an early lead, while Ward 3’s Doug Shipley was also ahead early.
“I’m disappointed. That’s all I can say,” said Ward 1 challenger Clare Riepma. “ I was hoping to get more votes. That’s life.”
Ward 2’s Lynn Strachan opted not to run again, as did Ward 10’s Alex Nuttall.
Rose Romita won by about 30 votes in Ward 2 and learned the news from The Advance.
“I knew it was going to be close, but not that close. I feel great, I’m speechless.”
She said she’s honoured to represent Ward 2.
“There’s a lot of qualified candidates. Steve Jones had one aspect, J.T. another and Barb has her own business as well.”
First priority for Romita is affordable housing and second suites.
When it was suggested municipalities don’t usually get involved in affordable housing, she said “(Barrie) better get used to it. I’ll be all over it like a dirty shirt.”
When she heard only 31 per cent of the population went to the polls, she said it was terrible.
“I know people who said they weren’t voting because they don’t know who the candidates are. I was going up and down Bayfield Street telling people to go vote, because I don’t want to lose by one. And if you don’t vote, I don’t want to hear complaints.”
Ward 3 went to Doug Shipley, who held a commanding lead over two challengers.
In Ward 4, Barry Ward retained his seat while in neighbouring Ward 5, incumbent Peter Silveira trounced his competitors.
Last election, Ward had almost the same number of votes and said this year he’s got 2,000 more voters in his ward.
“We knew we were going to see two new faces and I think we’ll have a good council. I’m glad to see a lot of the incumbents were re-elected and I’m thankful for the Ward 4 constituents for electing me one more time,” Ward said.
This is his fifth term on council, after first being elected in 2000.
“I think my opponents ran a clean campaign and I think it was like that in most of the wards.”
He looks forward to working with Lehman again and said the first priority around the council table is the budget.
“People say they’d rather see no tax increases, so we have to keep it as close to zero as possible.”
Ward 7 incumbent John Brassard and Ward 8’s Arif Khan also retained their seats.
Brassard said he’s proud to be re-elected to a council led by Lehman.
“I am thrilled for Jeff Lehman and I am thrilled for the city he has been re-elected as mayor. This is the first election in the past three that I’ve honestly felt people are pleased with the direction the city has taken,” he said.
In campaigning, Brassard said people told him they liked the growth plans for the city, as well as the plans for the southwest ward.
“The main issue in Ward 7 is speeding on residential streets and we’re working with city staff to fix that,” he said.
They also like the vision for Essa Road as a gateway to the city.
“We have one shot to get Essa Road developed right. People understood it will be transformed,” he said of the plans that will see more higher-rise condos along the arterial road.
“It’s effectively been a two-lane cow path for years. It’ll be transformed into a major gateway for the city. I’ll make sure over the next four years we’ll make Essa into something people will be proud of.”
In Ward 9 incumbent Brian Jackson was defeated by newcomer Sergio Morales.
Morales said he was “ecstatic” about the number of votes he received.
“My vision for Ward 9 obviously resonated for the people. I’m passionate about what I can bring to Ward 9.”
Mike McCann handily won Ward 10.
Nuttall, said he thinks the turnover on council will be healthy.
“ At the end of the day, they are representing the people. When new faces are elected, it means a different perspective.”