The Town of ladysmith will have a new mayor for the first time in 21 years.
And it’s Aaron Stone.
Preliminary results from the Nov. 15 election reveal that Stone received 1,315 votes, ahead of Gordon Horth, a current councillor who received 1,002 votes, and Marsh Stevens, who earned 341 votes.
Stone, who grew up in Ladysmith, is the president and general manager of Uforik Computers Inc. in downtown Ladysmith, and he is president of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce and also a director with the Ladysmith and District Credit Union.
“I just felt so good about the way we ran [the campaign] and we never turned nasty,” Stone said Saturday night following the election.
There will be three returning councillors and three new councillors. Newcomer Cal “Butch” Fradin received 1,465 votes, while newcomer Carol Henderson received 1,432 votes. Incumbent Duck Paterson received 1,410 votes, and current mayor Rob Hutchins, who has held that seat for seven terms, was elected to council with 1,329 votes. Incumbent Steve Arnett was elected with 1,230 votes, and former Public Works director Joe Friesenhan was elected with 1,029 votes.
Incumbents Jill Dashwood (895 votes) and Bill Drysdale (873 votes) did not make it back onto council. The other candidates who ran were newcomers Robert Cross (961 votes), Thea Melvin (945 votes) and Cathleen McMahon (758 votes).
“I think we’ve got a strong mix on council with three returning and three new,” said Stone. “We’re blessed with a good council to provide governance.”
Stone is looking forward to dealing with housekeeping items and establishing a higher level of discourse and trust within municipal government. Looking ahead, he thinks they need to get to work on the Waterfront Area Plan and continue to work on infrastructure and water security, and he says he is already talking to the Chamber of Commerce about downtown revitalization.
Fradin says he was humbled by the fact he received the most votes in his first time out.
“I thought it was very good the people empowered me with their trust to be on council,” he said. “I very much appreciate that. It just shows people were looking for the change they wanted, and hopefully I can provide that. I was very grateful that they all voted for me.”
Fradin says he is getting excited because although he has experience in government service with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, being part of local government is all new to him.
“I’m excited to get ideas of how things are run and hopefully do the right thing for people,” he said.
Voter turnout is being reported by the Town of Ladysmith as 42.5 per cent. CivicInfoBC has turnout at 41 per cent, but either way, it is higher than the 29-per-cent turnout in the last municipal election in 2011.
In a non-binding referendum, Ladysmith voters were not in favour of the Cowichan Sportsplex receiving dedicated annual funding from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, with 1,734 people voting no, and 654 people voting yes.