MONTAGUE — Residents here handed Mayor Richard Collins the largest landslide in recent town history here Monday night leaving the town's top elected official in shock.
"Pat (McGowan) and I have battled for mayor for years and we were always close to the count,'' he said from his home Monday night. "I just can't believe this victory and I guess people felt we were doing the right thing."
Collins earned 496 to McGowan's 181 and took a landslide victory that has oft times been swayed by not more than one vote in the past. Collins began municipal politics here in 1970 as a councillor and has been mayor on and off for 24 years since 1975.
It was the return of the incumbents for mayor Monday. Along with Collins, both Georgetown Mayor Lewis Lavandier and Souris Mayor David MacDonald reclaimed their positions.
MacDonald defeated rival Shane Clements 240-76.
The six council seats were the fiercest battle in Montague with eight contestants after the job.
Jim Bagnall, a former cabinet minister in the Pat Binns government, and Wayne Spin, were the new challengers this time out and handily earned seats.
Bagnall, a neighbour of Collins, polled 480 followed by John MacFarlane at 475. Peggy MacLeod earned 442 followed by Debbie Johnston at 411 and Wayne Spin at 395. Incumbent councillors Marian Robertson and Peter Doucette suffered the losses.
"I don't know why there was such a big change,'' said Collins. "I just hope it means I'm doing something right. I'm losing two good councillors and gaining two good people as well."
Mayor Lewis Lavandier earned the nod in Georgetown by polling 147 votes to Peter Llewellyn at 93 and Craig Murphy at 80. Ironically, there was lots of chat about newcomer Murphy defeating the veterans. Lavandier could not be reached for comment.
Eleven candidates sought the six council seats and all incumbents were returned again except for newcomer Mark Stevens. Returning councillors included Ronnie and Michael Gallant, Faye MacQuillan and Wade Williams and Allan Gallant, who canvassed via the Internet since he was forced to leave the province for monthly periods to work in Alberta.
Souris Mayor David (Mac) MacDonald retained his job as the mayor of Souris after defeating his challenger Shane Clements by 164 votes. However, only 316 of the 830 eligible voters cast ballots representing a 38 per cent turnout.
Meanwhile councillors were all acclaimed including Denis Thibodeau, Wanda Bailey, Kenny Peters, Jim Cheverie, Joanne Dunphy and Thelma MacDonald.
In Eastern Kings, Martin Cheverie was elected chair of community council by acclimation. He replaced Sheila Eastman who chose not to re-offer after six years as chair of council.
Filling out the council seats on the Eastern Kings Community Council are Clint Ching, Rusty Elliott, Anne Harris, Bradley MacDonald, Anne McPhee and Boyd Rose. A total of nine people nominated for the six council seats.
(With files by The Guardian's Dave Stewart)
... Full report in the print edition of The Guardian on Tuesday.