Garry Litke, Penticton’s new mayor-elect, wasn’t surprised with the low turnout at the polls Saturday.
“You always expect a byelection to have low numbers, especially with all the things going on in town,” said Litke, noting competition from the Jazz Festival, Young Stars hockey and several other events happening in Penticton over the weekend.
“But there were half-hour lineups for three or four hours of the afternoon. So there was considerable interest.”
Litke won the mayoral component of the civic byelection with 2,779 votes, well ahead of his nearest competitor, Vic Powell, who garnered 701 votes.
The third mayoral candidate, Brian Henningson, received 222 votes.
In the race for the council seat vacated by Litke in July when he resigned to run for mayor, Katie Robinson led the pack with 1,500 votes, 340 ahead of Andre Martin’s 1,160 votes.
Lynn Kelsey received 399 votes, Pat Buchanan gathered 357 votes and Kevin Andrews finished with 275 votes.
In total, 3,752 votes were cast in the 2013 byelection, translating into a turnout of 14.65 per cent.
The last full civic election in 2011, saw 8,589 out of 25,632 possible registered voters participating, for a 33.5 per cent voter turnout rate.
Litke and Robinson will take their oaths of office in a special ceremony on Sept. 16 in Vancouver, ensuring that Penticton is fully represented at Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention, which begins the same day.
The UBCM, especially meetings concerning the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion, are the first priority, according to Litke.
“We have some appointments lined up with the movers and shakers, with politicians and bureaucrats,” said Litke. I hope to be able to set up a meeting with the financial advisory committee. MLA (and former Penticton mayor) Dan Ashton is chair of that committee so that gives us an in.”
Robinson, who is looking forward to getting a little bit of sleep now that the long campaign period is over, said the hospital is also high on her agenda.
“I think that is going to be crucial for the people of Penticton to make sure that becomes a reality as soon as possible,” she said.
“We will do lots of lobbying when we are down in Vancouver.”
Robinson, previously a councillor in the 90s, has already started saving the city money.
“I found some of my old business cards, so I am saving the city money already by recycling my Katie Robinson, councillor cards. It still has all the correct information on it. That’s my first cost-saving measure,” she said.
Litke will also continue to work on improving openness at city hall.
“There will definitely be continuing change on transparency. While I was acting mayor I made sure that the advisory committees no longer operated in camera and I think I will continue that,” said Litke.
“For these so-called workshops there is no reason to have those behind closed doors. They should be made open to the public.
“If anyone wants to come and look at a consultant’s report on sewer pipes they should be welcome.”