Gerretsen wins mayoral race

Mayor-elect wins Kingston municipality with 17,096 votes, 56.4 per cent of the popular vote

Mark Gerresten wins with 56.4 per cent of the vote in the Kingston Municipal Election. 30,306 voters cast ballots during yesterday’s election.
Mark Gerresten wins with 56.4 per cent of the vote in the Kingston Municipal Election. 30,306 voters cast ballots during yesterday’s election.

Mayor elect Mark Gerretsen won with 56.4 per cent of the popular vote in last night’s landslide victory, but that’s not to say he’s opposed to learning from the other candidates.

“Some of the candidates had great ideas, and I hope to take that into account,” he said. “[But] the citizens of Kingston ultimately thought that I would be the best person to represent the City.”

Rob Matheson came second with 22.8 per cent of the popular vote followed by Barrie Chalmers who received 18.1 per cent. The three candidates for Run This Town won a combined 819 votes or 2.7 per cent of the vote. This includes 1.2 per cent of the vote for John Last. Nathaniel Wilson and Kevin Lavalley tied, each receiving 0.7 per cent of the vote. The City of Kingston published these unofficial results as the Journal went to press.

Gerretsen, who accumulated 17,096 votes, said that while he’s learned a bit from all of the candidates, the youth candidates who made up the Run This Town platform drew his attention to student issues in particular.

“The gentlemen in Run This Town had very specific objectives and they were very clear on that,” he said. “They even said from the beginning that ‘we are not here to bring forth votes, we are here to bring forth the message that young people need to get voting’ and I think they did a very good job on that.”

As for his future goals for the City, Gerretsen said housing issues are his first priority.

“You know the money is there in the system. It’s just the way of allocating it,” he said, adding that bylaw enforcement is essential for ensuring housing standards.

“It’s important that we address that property standards are being met in the city. We need to make sure that bylaws are enforced. We have some difficulties and challenges from time to time into getting into properties in order to being able to inspect them, but I’m committed to working with city staff to find new ways that we can continue to enforce our property standards.”

For Last, the leading candidate of the Run This Town campaign, the election was a success in the sense that it drew attention to youth issues and student engagement.

“I was hoping that during this election a lot of these young people would start caring about these issues enough that they’re the ones holding the mayor accountable,” he said. “The best case scenario that we can get out of this is that when Mark wakes up tomorrow and is mayor, he’ll know that we’ll be over his shoulder. He’ll also be thinking in terms of ‘these were some good ideas they brought up, let’s implement them to keep this minority group down,’ even though we’re not a minority group.”

Fellow Run This Town candidate Lavalley agreed the goal now should be to hold Gerretssn accountable for resolving student issues.

“What we’ve done at the very least is get them to comment on issues so we can hold him to it,” he said.

Candidate Wilson said even the 819 votes the Run This Town team got combined speaks volumes.

“We love the support and we love the idea that someone thinks we could run this city well,” he said. “We’re all excited about getting a couple hundred votes because those votes are people saying ‘those other candidates aren’t good enough.’”

Unlike Wilson, candidate Matheson said he was disappointed with the results.

“I had a feeling that things weren’t going to come in my direction although I’m not sure of the reason but that’s just the way democracy works,” he said. “I thought I ran a great campaign. We always took the high road.”

Matheson said he thought the Run This Town campaign raised important issues for Kingston residents, but that youth didn’t capitalize enough on their opportunity for a voice.

“I think it’s quite important that John, Kevin and Nathan ran in this election. I think they brought out a lot of youth issues that were otherwise opposed in the past. I am a little disappointed in the youth turnout,” he said. “I think we really need to re-engage youth in our democracy.”

Matheson said he intends to stay active in politics but has yet to decide whether to run for office again.

“I wanted to start engaging people in democracy,” he said. “I want to keep people thinking and talking about politics. I’ll try and figure out a way to get involved [in future political campaigns].”

Despite the unfavourable outcome, Candidate Barrie Chalmers said he’s happy with how his campaign staff performed.

“If you want to step up to the plate and help this city sometimes you have to put your best foot forward and that’s what we’ve done with this campaign,” he said. “And I’m not disappointed whatsoever. I’ve learned a lot. It’s been a great adventure.”

While he has strong convictions about the integrity of his own platform, Chalmers said he’s a little less sure about Gerretson’s. “I feel sorry for Kingstonians for what they’ll have to deal with in the coming years,” he said. “I predict Mark Gerretson will soon be running for another office. He is using this as a stepping stone and that frightens me.”

Chalmers said one of the main problems that this election suffered was the inadequate supply of voting booths.

“I don’t know what happened but voter turnout should’ve been higher. The polls were not accessible enough,” he said. “People won’t travel [long distances] to vote and the polls were too far away.”

As for the future, Chalmers said he doesn’t intend to run again.

“That could change down the road but I don’t think it will.”

With files from Terra-Ann Arnone, Jake Edmiston, Katherine Fernandez-Blance, Jessica Fishbein and Labiba Haque.

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