Williams Lake has a new mayor.
Preliminary results from Saturday’s municipal election gave Walt Cobb the victory, garnering 1,334 votes and beating out his challengers, including incumbent Kerry Cook.
Longtime city councillor Surinderpal Rathor fought to a good second-place finish with 1,219 votes, while Cook received 880 votes and John Bjornstrom had 91.
“This is so fantastic,” Cobb said election night from the location of his former men’s clothing store on Oliver Street, surrounded by supporters. “I’m so happy. When I was visiting different businesses and going door-to-door I heard that the people were ready for a change and I’m glad they chose me as the change.”
Mayor Cook congratulated Cobb on being elected and said she wished him the very best in his term as mayor.
“I feel it’s been a privilege to serve and I look forward to continuing to serve in different ways in the community,” Cook said from her home.
Rathor, who served 21 consecutive years on council, also wished Cobb success.
“I respect the decision of the voters,” Rathor said.
“I have no plans to leave Williams Lake and want people to know I am here to help wherever I can.”
Fresh from a meeting with the city’s CAO Darrell Garceau Monday, Cobb, 70, showed no signs of his age as he was quick to embark on his election promises by meeting with officials about city business.
“I met with the chief administrative officer to tell him one thing I don’t like is the committee of the whole meeting,” Cobb said. “It’s perception more than anything because they do the committee of the whole and they have their discussion downstairs and then they get to the council meeting and vote. To me that’s not open council.”
Cobb wants the discussion to happen at the council table where it’s recorded.
He also vowed to be more accessible to media.
“I want people to be able to call me or one of the council members,” he said. “How do we get to know what council members really think if all people see is a press release?”
Cobb is also eager to meet with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about the proposed upgrades and intersection changes to Highway 97 at Carson Drive and Toop Road, adding he hasn’t been part of the discussions.
Happy the pool referendum was successful, Cobb said the job for the city and regional district will be to fundraise as much as possible to go toward the project.
Before council is officially sworn in on Dec. 2, Cobb also intends to meet with each councillor individually to learn their interests before he appoints them to the council’s committees.
“I also will work with council to develop a strategy for the next four years,” he said.
Cobb said he’s contacted everyone who ran for council to consider working with him as he takes on the role of mayor.
“We need ideas. I don’t have all the answers,” he said.
Cobb was mayor from 1990 to 1996 and a councillor from 1980 to 1990 and said it was a big decision to run for mayor.
“Part of it because I was mayor before and I didn’t want to be perceived as a has-been trying to make a comeback. But I felt so strongly that our municipality was going backwards that I couldn’t let it happen and if I could make a difference I was willing to put my name forward to do that.”