What happened to all this talk about cleaning house at city hall? After all the results were counted, and didn't that take awhile, there will be only three new faces around the council table along with a new mayor, Mike Savage. Matt Whitman, Steve Craig and Wayne Mason are the newbies. I thought we might see more, especially after all the public rhetoric about needing change. Four other incumbent councillors did go down to defeat Saturday,Dawn Sloane, Mary Wile, Peter Lund and Bill Karsten. Jerry Blumenthal, Bob Harvey and Peter Kelly also chose not to re-offer. A smaller 17 member council, 16 councillors and the mayor, will be a change. But with so many old faces at the table, whether it will be a more efficient council remains to be seen. The new council will be sworn into office November 6th.
There will be lots of change at the Halifax Regional School Board including a new chairman. Irvine Carvery went down to defeat Saturday as the board's African Nova Scotian member, losing to Melinda Daye. Gin Yee was the only incumbent to win a seat Saturday. Incumbent Sheryl Blumenthal-Harrison was acclaimed and Mi'kmag rep Kirk Arsenault was re-appointed by the minister. There'll be 7 new faces at the school board. It will have its first meeting November 28th.
Bill Karsten has asked for a recount in Dartmouth South-Eastern Passage. Can't blame him. He lost to fellow councillor Jackie Barkhouse by just 6 votes. It wasn't until 3 Sunday morning that those results and several other races were actually confirmed. An hour and a half into our election coverage on News 95.7 and many districts were still just reporting results from just one or two polling stations. Mayor Peter Kelly, our studio guest, was livid at the delay and promised to investigate. Mayor-elect Mike Savage also wants to know what caused the delays and is promising to fix whatever the problem was. Gloria McCluskey says something went terribly wrong. She was one of several candidates whose own people had the voting results long before they were publicly posted online. In Peninsula South, incumbent Sue Uteck conceded to challenger Waye Mason while the online results on the city's website still had Gerry Walsh as the leader in that race with Mason in third. The city's returning officer, Cathy Mellett, blames a lack of staff. Whatever the reason, it was an embarrassment for the city.
And speaking of things embarrassing, voter turnout for this municipal election was just 37%, the same as it was in 2008. Considering 22% of eligible voters cast their ballots online or by phone, only 15% bothered to turnout Saturday to vote. Clearly we have an issue here and there needs to be a debate on what to do to fix it. Is it about Saturdays? Do we need to return to weekday voting? Or do we need to get extreme and making voting mandatory as they have done in Australia? Voting is the rent we pay to continue to live in a free country so we have to find a solution to this public apathy.
Have a great day. Get involved. And if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.