An Exciting Night
If you needed any proof that every vote is critical, you only need to look at the result from last night’s municipal election in the City of Port Alberni.
Thanks to archives of the Alberni Valley Times and on the City of Port Alberni website, I was able to to find numbers in elections going back to 1993.
Note that I wasn’t able to find complete results from the 2002 Election. If anyone has access to those numbers please do let me know. Also, the 2022 numbers are still preliminary, so may change slightly. Sources are at the bottom of the page. If you see any errors or omissions, please let me know in the comments.
Mayor of Port Alberni
This year’s election was the closest in at least the past 30 years with just 166 votes separating Mayor Sharie Minions and challenger Tom Verbrugge. It also appears to be the first time the winning mayoral candidate has only had one challenger since 1993.
Note: 2002 had 3 candidates according to the AVTimes reports at the time, but no separated vote count was published so only two numbers appear here. It is also unclear whether the 1370 votes was for the runner-up, or for both challengers combined.
|Winner||Sharie Minions||Sharie Minions||Mike Ruttan||John Douglas||Ken McRae||Ken McRae||Ken Mcrae||Gillian Trumper||Gillian Trumper||Gillian Trumper|
|2nd||Tom Vergrugge||Denis Sauvé||John Douglas||Ken McRae||Jen Fisher-Bradley||Jen Fisher-Bradley||Dusty Miller||Paul Carey|
|3rd||Mike Ruttan||Cindy Solda||Jen Fisher-Bradley||Jacques Savard||James Dominic King||Wayne Crowley|
|4th||John Douglas||Kevin Wright||Stacey Gaiga|
|5th||Kevin Wright||Hira Chopra|
|6th||Gary Robertson||Maurice Chopin|
This year continues a historic trend of Port Alberni City Council vote being split between high vote-getters and a battle for the final two or three spots of six seats around the Mayor. This year was especially close with only 180 votes separating 4th and 8th places.
2002 is missing the middle candidates numbers as they were not published in the AVTimes at the time.
|1st||Charles Mealey||Debbie Haggard||Denis Sauvé||Cindy Solda||Cindy Solda||Cindy Solda||Hira Chopra||Donna Brett||Donna Brett||D.M. Brett|
|2nd||Debbie Haggard||Cindy Solda||Dan Washington||Rob Cole||John Douglas||Hira Chopra||Amanda Lord||Hira Chopra||John McNabb||H.A. Anderson|
|3rd||Cindy Solda||Dan Washington||Sharie Minions||Dan Washington||Jack McLeman||Ike Patterson||Cindy Solda||Dan Washington||Hira Chopra||K. Coupland|
|4th||Dustin Dame||Helen Poon||Ron Paulson||Jack McLeman||Ike Patterson||Charles Mealey||Charles Mealey||Ken McRae||George Colussi||J.C. McNabb|
|5th||John Douglas||Ron Paulson||Jack McLeman||Hira Chopra||Hira Chopra||Kenn Whiteman||Lyle Price||Chris Gibson||Tommy Simmons||H. Nederland|
|6th||Todd Patola||Ron Corbeil||Chris Alemany||Wendy Kerr||Kenn Whitemann||Jack McLeman||Ike Patterson||Charles Mealey||Jack Thornburgh||T.F. Simmons|
|7th||Ron Paulson||Hira Chopra||Wendy Kerr||David Oscienny||Gary Robertson||Anne Graboski||Jack McLeman||Don Walker||Rob Fioraso||E. Rusel|
|8th||Dan Washington||Seva Dhaliwal||Penny Cote||Angie Blake||Alice Schoffer||Paul Elder||?||Anne Grabowski||Leo Sorensen||F. Kutschera|
Participation in municipal elections has varied widely over the past 10 elections spanning 29 years. After the hotly contested election of 1999 which came with the approval of the new Arena, turnout dropped from 57.5% in 1999 all the way dow to a low of 27.8% in 2005, nearly as low as 26% mark in 1996 when Gillian Trumper was acclaimed a second time. It recovered some in the following years to a high of 46.4% in 2014 but has now dropped again to just 33.3% of voters participating in the 2022 election.
It’s also worth noting that after a number of terms with eligible electors hovering around 13,500, this year we had more eligible electors in the City of Port Alberni than at any time since at least 1996 and possibly longer.
Nearly 15,000 people were eligible to vote in this year’s election.
How do we keep municipal electors engaged?
Perhaps one of the things that the results over the decades tell us is people come to vote in response to big issues, and a contentious mayoral competition. In that way, perhaps this election is an outlier.
Disclosure: I supported Mayor Minions in the past two elections.
Sources and News clippings
City of Port Alberni Website (PDF):
Alberni Valley Times (through newspapers.com)
PS. “Freak snowfall in November” in 1993… this year of 2022, we voted in a haze of wildfire smoke and historically hot temperatures.