Williams Lake has a new mayor.
Preliminary results show Walt Cobb was elected as mayor of the city Saturday evening in an extremely close race.
Cobb beat out challengers Surinderpal Rathor, John Bjornstrom and incumbent Kerry Cook by a slim margin tallying 1,334 votes, while Rathor had 1,219, Cook had 880 and Bjornstrom had 91.
City council will also see a new look as just three incumbents who ran from last term’s council were re-elected. Scott Nelson (1,946), Jason Ryll (1,789), Craig Smith (1,688), Sue Zacharias (1,577), Ivan Bonnell (1,501), and Laurie Walters (1,500), will join Cobb as the city’s representatives.
Cobb, along with his family and supporters, were gathered at the former location of a men’s wear store he ran on Oliver Street for many years Saturday when the Tribune called to get his reaction.
“This is so fantastic,” Cobb said when he learned he’d been elected. “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.”
The first thing Cobb wil do as mayor is pull the newly elected council officials together, sit down and build a strategy together for the next four years, he said.
Cobb was mayor of Williams Lake from 1990 to 1996 and a city councillor from 1980 to 1990.
“It was a big decision to run for mayor,” he said. “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.”
He described the newly elected council as one with a good range of experience , although he said he was surprised the three incumbents — Walters, Zacharias and Bonnell — were re-elected because the feeling on the street was that people wanted a clean sweep.
“In a sense it will be easier for me because I’ll have some councillors there with experience,” he said.
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.
Six other people ran for councillor positions including Peter Bowman who received 1106 votes, Marnie Brenner who had 1040, Sue Lachance who had 1452, Wayne Lucier who had 1073, Bobbi-Joe Macnair who had 1288 and Tovi Pare who had 1291,
The city said Saturday a total of 3,565 of 7,777 estimated eligible electors voted resulting in a 45.8. per cent voter turnout.
This compares to the 2011 General Local Election in which a total of 3638 of 7173 estimated eligible electors voted resulting in a 50.7 per cent voter turnout, the 2008 election, in which a total of 2989 of 6682 estimated eligible electors voted resulting in a 44.7 per cent voter turnout, and the 2005 General Local Election in which 3,857 of 7,769 eligible electors resulting in a voter turnout of 49.6 per cent.
While the city was able to process its votes electronically, the Cariboo Regional District, like other regional districts in the province, has to process its votes by hand.
Those results have yet to come in, along with the pool referendum results which are also being tallied by the CRD as the pool is a CRD function.