Bookstore owner Cliff McNeil-Smith unseats Sidney mayor

Bookstore owner Cliff McNeil-Smith has upset incumbent Steve Price to become the next mayor of Sidney.

McNeil-Smith, owner and general manager of Tanner’s Books, defeated Price 3,740 votes to 929.

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“I’m enormously excited,” McNeil-Smith said. “There were 11 councillor candidates for the six positions, a lot of new faces and there was just outstanding engagement.

“The number of doors we knocked on, the public forums we had, all-candidates meetings — it just really engaged the community.”

Asked to explain his margin of victory, McNeil-Smith pointed to the previous council’s handling of major developments.

“We had some very large projects come forward over the last couple or three years, and the community was just not satisfied with the engagement from the current council,” he said.

“People want to move forward — this community has always been moving forward — but they just felt that … they weren’t being listened to.”

Elsewhere on the Saanich Peninsula, Geoff Orr, a one-term councillor and former owner of a software company, will be the next mayor of North Saanich. Orr, 57, defeated former councillor Dorothy Hartshorne 2,592 votes to 1,415.

“I really feel privileged and honoured that the electorate voted the way that they did in terms of the numbers,” he said.

It’s the second time Hartshorne has come up short in a bid for the mayor’s job. In 2014, she lost by 158 votes to Alice Finall, who is stepping down this year after three consecutive terms in office.

Orr, a mechanical engineer, said one of council’s first priorities will be hiring a new chief administrative officer.

A self-described centrist politician, Orr already has considerable support among councillors, all of whom were acclaimed.

During the campaign, he earned endorsements from three of the four returning incumbents.

In Central Saanich, Mayor Ryan Windsor was acclaimed to a second term. First elected to council in a 2013 byelection, he won the mayor’s job the following year and faced no opposition this time around.

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