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Saanich candidate who lost by 11 votes asking judge for recount

Rishi Sharma’s lawyer says an 11-vote difference on approximately 10,000 votes for the two candidates “is pretty marginal”

Candidate Rishi Sharma says he will seek a recount after he lost out on a seat on Saanich council by just 11 votes.

The final count on Oct. 15 showed Sharma winning 9,207 votes, just behind Teale Phelps Bondaroff’s 9,218.

“I‘m honestly heartbroken over this because we worked so darn hard,” said Sharma, who will appear with lawyer Bruce Hallsor before a provincial court judge on Monday morning.

Sharma said he had wanted to be the first South Asian elected to council since Saanich was incorporated in 1906.

Of 90,829 eligible voters, 27,975 cast ballots to elect eight councillors in Saanich.

Hallsor said an 11-vote difference on approximately 10,000 votes for the two candidates “is pretty marginal.”

The legislation doesn’t require allegation of any kind of irregularity — just evidence that it’s close enough that a recount is warranted, Hallsor said. There’s no automatic number that triggers a recount in municipal elections, he said.

If the recount is approved by the judge, Hallsor said he’ll discuss with the chief electoral officer for Saanich how to proceed. Hallsor would prefer a hand count of all the ballots.

“I’m certainly open to any kind of reasonable discussion and I think that’s what we’ll be talking about on Monday,” said Hallsor.

Phelps Bondaroff said he was informed about the request for a recount on Friday.

He said the district has an “excellent voting system and to my knowledge there are no indications of errors or irregularities in the vote count.”

“Mr. Sharma has the right to apply for a judicial recount, and I trust that the process will ensure an accurate result,” he said.

Sharma, who works for the public service, said it would be “a disservice” to his supporters if he didn’t request a recount given the slim margin.

He said if the final result confirms Phelps Bondaroff won, he looks forward to continuing to work with him and council on road safety and other important issues.

All six Saanich council incumbents — Colin Plant, Susan Brice, Zac de Vries, Judy Brownoff, Nathalie Chambers and Karen Harper — were re-elected, along with newcomers Phelps Bondaroff and Mena Westhaver. Dean Murdock was elected mayor .

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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