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COQUITLAM: Stewart is back in, Macdonell is out

Mayor Richard Stewart will be at the helm of Coquitlam city council for another three years, with new councillors Craig Hodge and Terry O'Neill joining him at the table. With all 26 stations reporting in by 9:10 p.m.

Mayor Richard Stewart will be at the helm of Coquitlam city council for another three years, with new councillors Craig Hodge and Terry O'Neill joining him at the table.

With all 26 stations reporting in by 9:10 p.m. tonight (Saturday), the results show Coun. Selina Robinson topping the polls for a council seat with 8.74% of the vote followed by Hodge, a retired Tri-City News photographer, with 8.55% and Coun. Linda Reimer with 8.25%.

Coun. Lou Sekora won the fourth spot with 7.73% of the vote followed by Coun. Neal Nicholson (7.15%), Coun. Mae Reid (7.06%), challenger O'Neill (6.86%), a Tri-City News Face to Face columnist currently on leave, and Coun. Brent Asmundson (6.84%).

That means incumbent Doug Macdonell is off council, garnering 6.75% - 102 votes behind Asmundson.

Reached at his campaign office, Mayor Stewart - who backed Asmundson, Macdonell, Reid, Reimer, Hodge and Araz Rismani for council - told The Tri-City News: "We ran on our record and the results show that we were able to achieve that. We had a positive campaign."

As for the 21% turnout for the $300,000 election, the same percentage as in the 2008 general election, Stewart said he was worried earlier that the number would be lower as "we didn't have the kind of issues we had in the last campaign, when there were cost overruns with building Chimo pool. In fact, there were hardly any issues in this campaign."

In an effort to increase turnout, Stewart vowed to get young people more involved in civic politics by creating a youth city council.

As for Macdonell, the chair of the city's recreation committee, Stewart thanked his colleague and friend for his years on council. "It's heartbreaking to see him lose," the mayor said. "He's a hardworking guy and he's committed to the community. He has great ideas."

Stewart said he hopes Macdonell, who was not immediately available for comment, will continue to be involved with municipal policy-making, especially regarding amateur sports and with his push to have an events tourism strategy in the city.

Meanwhile, Stewart's challenger Barrie Lynch, who lost by 2,459 votes, said he was disappointed, telling The Tri-City News shortly after the count was final, "It wasn't what I was hoping for. There were a bunch of things happening behind the scenes that put a negative image on me and I worked hard to dispute that."

Lynch also said news articles reporting on Stewart's car accident last Saturday while campaigning in the Austin Heights neighbourhood "were a positive thing" for his opponent.

Asked about whether he'll run for nomination in the upcoming provincial by-election to replace BC Liberal MLA Iain Black, who quit last month to take a job with the Vancouver Board of Trade, Lynch said he "hasn't contemplated anything at this time."

Newly elected councillor Hodge attributed his success to his volunteer work. "It shows I'm somebody who cared about his community," he said at city hall.

A past president of the Tri-Cities' Chamber of Commerce, Hodge said his CUPE endorsement shows he's "balanced" and has "broad appeal." "I'm pleased to have been supported by the city workers, by the firefighters, by sports groups and by the community."

O'Neill said his win is a result of two and a half months of door knocking and listening to the public about rising property taxes and costs at city hall. "My number one issue is to bring more sanity to the operational expenses in the city," the independent candidate said. "Council needs to get its act in order."

As for the school board, all four incumbents - Diane Sowden, Brian Robinson, Gerri Wallis and Gail Alty - are returning to the local board of education.

jwarren@tricitynews.com

THE RESULTS

Of the 82,839 eligible voters, 17,961 or 21.68% headed to the polling stations:

Bullet point denotes incumbent:

MAYOR

Richard STEWART 10,050 (56.96%)

Barrie LYNCH 7,591 (43.03%)

COUNCIL

Selina ROBINSON 9,635 (8.74%)

Craig HODGE 9,424 (8.55%)

Linda REIMER 9.093 (8.25%)

Lou SEKORA 8,519 (7.73%)

Neal NICHOLSON 7,885 (7.15%)

Mae REID 7,784 (7.06%)

Terry O'NEILL 7,566 (6.86%)

Brent ASMUNDSON 7,541 (6.84%)

Doug MACDONELL 7,439 (6.75%)

Fred SOOFI 7,310 (6.63%)

Randy DELMONICO 6,961 (6.31%)

Vincent WU 6,271 (5.69%)

Andy SHEN 4,071 (3.69%)

Araz RISMANI 3,981 (3.61%)

Massimo MANDARINO 3,641 (3.30%)

Andy WICKEY 3,079 (2.79%)

SCHOOL BOARD

Diane SOWDEN 12,116 (24.69%)

Brian ROBINSON 11,491 (23.42%)

Gerri WALLIS 10,896 (22.21%)

Gail ALTY 10,000 (20.38%)

Humera AHSANULLAH 4,550 (9.27%)