The race for the mayor’s seat in Saanich was a nail-biter Saturday night, with Dean Murdock, a former three-term councillor, winning a narrow victory over incumbent Fred Haynes by the end of the night.
“We knew it was going to be tight,” said Murdock, who celebrated his win at home with friends and family, including wife Rachel and children Caelum and Avery — who could be heard throughout the night asking: “Are you mayor, yet?”
Some voting locations still had lines at 8 p.m. when polls closed, but all those voters were able to cast ballots, said chief electoral officer Angila Bains.
Murdock viewed the lineups as a “positive sign” that change was afoot.
Saanich, with a population of about 117,000, had the same mayor for about 18 years between 1996 and 2014 — Frank Leonard — followed by one-term mayor Richard Atwell, then Haynes.
Throughout the campaign, both mayoral candidates focused on issues such as tackling housing affordability, but while Haynes ran under the slogan “momentum matters,” appealing to voters to allow him to finish what he had started, Murdock touted himself as the best candidate to get the job done — quicker.
A consistent theme on the doorstep during the campaign was that there was “a lot of talk without a lot of actions,” said Murdock.
“That was largely the message that voters had, so it seems to me people are ready for Saanich to start moving forward.”
Haynes, 70, was elected mayor in 2018 with 47 per cent of the votes after serving one term on council. That same year, Murdock, 40, a three-term councillor and CRD director between 2008 and 2018, decided not to run again in order to focus on his family.
Last year, Murdock, a Saanich resident since 1993, returned to the public eye, creating a group called Better Mobility Saanich that asked residents to identify dangerous walking and cycling routes to schools in order to improve them, and calling attention to Saanich’s poor pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.
Incumbent councillors Colin Plant, Susan Brice, Zac de Vries, Judy Brownoff, Nathalie Chambers and Karen Harper will be joined by newcomers Mena Westhaver and Teale Phelps Bondaroff