30.5 Percent turnout - lower than expected

The votes are in, and the results are final.

The voters of Chatham-Kent have re-elected Darrin Canniff as mayor for a second term.

Challenged by Andy Fisher and William Pickard, Canniff won the mayor’s race handily.

The incumbent received 75 percent of the vote with 17,981 votes. William Pickard received 3,588 votes, and Andy Fisher had 2,364 votes.

“Next term, each councillor is going to have $25,000 to spend on capital projects. I’m going to have some money to spend. It’s going to stimulate a lot of small to mid-sized projects in the community right across Chatham-Kent,” said Canniff

The mayor said he wishes to build a community with all the needed amenities and jobs to keep youth in Chatham-Kent.

“I’m looking forward to the next four years working with the other 17 people that are elected. I trust that collectively each and every one of us, if we do five percent more in Chatham-Kent, we are going to have an absolutely amazing place,” Canniff said.

Canniff was first elected as mayor of Chatham-Kent in 2018 after serving as a councillor in Ward 6 in Chatham for one term from 2014 to 2018. None of the candidates who ran against Canniff in the 2018 election were on the ballot opposing him in 2022.

He said he was expecting a low voter turnout but admitted he wasn’t prepared for the turnout to be as low as it was.

In the end, with all of the tabulators reporting, 24,546 votes were cast. This represents 30.5 percent of the eligible voters in Chatham-Kent, down from the 34,722 ballots (45.44 percent turnout) in 2018, the 32,783 ballots (42 percent turnout) in 2014, and the 32,398 ballots (39.9 percent) in 2010.

The low voter turnout saw some close councillor races, which led many to ask about the potential for a recount as a few votes decided some council positions. However, the Municipal Elections Act only allows for an automatic recount if there is a tie.

Former councillor Mary Clare Latimer was unseated by a single vote by political newcomer Ryan Doyle in South Kent. At the same time, Amy Finn held onto her seat in Chatham with just a 10-vote lead over Carson Warrener.

In Ward 3, incumbents Steve Pinsonneault (2,049 votes) and John Wright (1,727 votes) earned another term. The incumbents defeated challengers Morena McDonald (1,161 votes), Matt Lamarche (315 votes) and Martin Fisher (216 votes) to secure re-election.

Pinsonneault said while he is excited to represent the good folks from East Kent, he wants to see a resolution to the tree conservation issue that works for both sides.

He added going into recession will bring on tougher times.

“I want to encourage the council to be more fiscally responsible due to the fact we are going into tough times, and the taxpayer’s ability to pay is going to be reduced tremendously with inflation climbing quickly,” he added.

Wright echoed Pinsonneault and said that high inflation and higher interest rates would have an impact on budgets.

“Things have got to change. I’m going to focus on common sense spending,” said Wright.

Pinsonneault said the two incumbents have a great working relationship and added that working with him had been an absolute pleasure this past term.

“It has been an absolute pleasure working with John this past term,” said Pinsonneault. “We don’t always agree on everything, but we have mutual respect for each other, and we thoroughly talk everything through.”

Wright agreed.

“Steve has been excellent to work with,” said Wright. “We discuss the concerns and issues of Chatham-Kent, which helps us make what we feel is in the best interest of the people when we vote. It is important that all councillors, mayor, and staff communicate and work together.”

In the English public school board, Randy Campbell and Angela Richards were voted in to represent Wards 1, 2, and 3. Janet Barnes was elected to represent Wards 4 and 5, while Ruth Ann Dodman and Kelley Robertson were voted in to represent Ward 6.

In the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, Brenda Rumble was elected as the trustee for Wards 1 and 2. Jann Tooshkenig was acclaimed as the trustee for Ward 3, while John VanHeck was acclaimed as the trustee for Wards 4 and 5, and David Argenti was acclaimed to serve as the trustee for Ward 6.

In the Conseil Scolaire Catholique Viamonde, David Paradis was acclaimed to serve as the trustee for the French public board.

Robert Demers and Doris Sauve were acclaimed to trusteeships for the French separate board.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News