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Election 2018: Beamish scores big win in Gibsons

Bill Beamish went into the municipal election hoping to sit on Gibsons council, but the unexpected withdrawal of the only mayoral candidate changed Beamish’s plans and the whole dynamic of the campaign.
Stafford Lumley, Bill Beamish and David Croal celebrate their win at Dougall Park in Gibsons.

Bill Beamish went into the municipal election hoping to sit on Gibsons council, but the unexpected withdrawal of the only mayoral candidate changed Beamish’s plans and the whole dynamic of the campaign.

On Saturday, Beamish, a veteran local government administrator and former chief administrative officer of the town, was elected mayor with 76.6 per cent of the votes for a preliminary tally of 1,347.

Beamish was the first to enter the re-opened mayoralty race after Silas White, who’d served as a councillor since 2014 and was poised to be acclaimed, withdrew, citing health concerns from a concussion suffered in a cycling accident.

Three others quickly followed Beamish in the mayoralty race – all first-time politicians: Blake MacLeod, Les Thomson and William Moysey.

MacLeod finished with 200 votes, Thomson with 99 and Moysey garnered 86.

Beamish centred his mayoralty campaign on the same issues he wanted to focus on as a council candidate: having a strong working relationship with the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), especially on water, addressing affordable housing and development pressures, and road and drainage infrastructure.

He said his administrative experience would serve him well in the role of mayor. “It does look like there’s going to be a significant changeover with this council, so my experience might be beneficial to everybody, including my experiences elsewhere,” Beamish said.

Stafford Lumley, the only incumbent running, was second in the council voting with 963.

Newcomer Aleria Ladwig topped the four who made the cut with 1,085. David Croal had 907 votes and Annemarie De Andrade won the final seat with 888.

Suzanne Senger, who garnered 807 votes in her losing bid for the mayoralty in 2014, had 811 votes, which was not enough for a seat on council.

Voter turnout in Gibsons in 2014 was among the highest in the province at 62 per cent. The preliminary estimate has this year’s turnout much lower at around 44 per cent.

Beamish, who gathered with supporters at Dougall Park on election night, said he looked forward to working with the new council, and told Coast Reporter he planned to continue to canvass the community to see what residents expect.

“I’m actually considering continuing door-knocking now to find out what people expect of their new council and be part of that… I want to keep the momentum going. Because it’s important we ask, it’s important we talk to the community,” he said.

Beamish also said he regretted that White could not be part of the celebration. “I’m sorry that Silas isn’t here and didn’t come in by acclamation but after he decided to pull out, he and I talked, and I talked with Wayne [Rowe] and I agreed that I would step up and do this and I look forward to it,” he said. “It’ll be a challenge, I recognize that, but with the community we can work together and build on the things that have been done in the past and new things as well.”

Beamish was one of a group of candidates in Gibsons who began advertising together late in the campaign under the banner “Keep Gibsons Strong. Elect our Residents” – although they rejected the idea that they were a slate. 

The others were Lumley, Ladwig, Croal and Carol Doyle, who finished with 803 votes.

The five were also endorsed by a third-party sponsor group that listed outgoing mayor Wayne Rowe among its backers.

Rowe joined Beamish’s supporters Oct. 20 and told Coast Reporter he was pleased with the outcome. “I’m very happy with what I’m seeing here tonight. We’ve got some continuity with Councillor Lumley returning to council. The new mayor’s got a lot of experience and knowledge in our town and I’m very happy that Bill will be our new mayor.”

Lumley, who was also at Beamish’s election-night gathering, said he’s glad to be returning to the council table.

“I ran again because there’s so many things we put in motion from the last council that I wanted to see come to fruition that I think are great for the town,” he said. “I think the council that’s been elected will have the foresight to work with the public and all the council and go forward with a lot of initiatives we’ve started.”

The incoming Gibsons council will be sworn in Nov. 6 at an inaugural meeting where they will also choose the Town’s representative at the SCRD.

– With files from Sophie Woodrooffe