Vote brings stability at Duncan City Hall

Voters in the City of Duncan brought back Mayor Phil Kent for a fourth term, along with four incumbent councillors and two new faces.

"Our electorate is always right, and they returned a good balance on council," Kent said. "I’m very pleased."

Kent easily beat challenger Peter Lockhart Gordon 845 votes to 256. On council, Tom Duncan led all 14 candidates with 596 votes, and will be joined by Michelle Staples (587 votes), Roger Bruce (551), Michelle Bell (526), Sharon Jackson (498) and John Horgan (467).

Jackson will be back for her seventh term on city council, while Duncan will begin his third term, and Bell and Staples are back for their second terms. Bruce and Horgan are newcomers to the table.

Incumbents Martin Barker and Joe Thorne missed being re-elected, finishing seventh and eighth with 408 and 370 votes, respectively. Rounding out the group were Travis Peterson (363), George Nielsen (356), John B. Garrison (290), Katelyn Beale (266), Gordy Heppell (174), and Bobby Cole (114).

New councillor-elect Bruce was thrilled with the results.

"I didn’t really know at all how it would pan out," he said. "There were a lot of good candidates running; it was great to have a big group."

Bruce is anxious to begin his four-year term, which starts when council is sworn in on Monday, Dec. 1. "I’ve known Michelle Staples for a long time, and Sharon Jackson," he said. "It will be great to come up with some creative ideas going forward. They are all very nice people. It was a good process, and I’m looking forward to the next four years." Turnout in Duncan was 31.4 per cent, down very slightly from 32.9 per cent in 2011.

Voters also weighed in on a pair of non-binding referenda, voicing their approval for studies of amalgamation with North Cowichan (554 to 502) and for the restructure of current city boundaries (567-480). North Cowichan voters also approved studying amalgamation (4,446-2,065). It will now be up to the respective councils to decide the next step.

"We’ll have to analyze that a little bit as a council and at our next joint meeting with North Cowichan and look at specifics and decide on a course of action," Kent said. "It indicates that people are open to looking at studying amalgamation, but they want options as well. Ultimately, both councils will have to agree; I think doing this separately is not feasible."