Bradford West Gwillimbury’s next mayor is ready to get to work.
Shortly after 8 p.m. Monday, James Leduc saw his name at the top of the unofficial results from the past 10 days of online voting, defeating Mauro Di Giovanni, Antonio Garcia and Michael Lotter.
Leduc took home 53.2 per cent of the 9,379 ballots cast, saying he was humbled by the response from the electorate.
“It’s overwhelming right now,” he said. “I want to thank the residents of Bradford for having the absolute faith in me to be their next mayor.”
The mayor-elect was joined by dozens of well-wishers and supporters who packed Sabella for a victory party, including outgoing Mayor Rob Keffer, re-elected Ward 7 Coun. Peter Dykie and former Ward 6 Coun. Mark Contois, who lost his re-election bid. It was Keffer who spoke first to the crowd, lauding Leduc as the best possible choice for the job, before the two embraced to a rousing cheer.
While Monday was for celebrating, Leduc will be looking to get to work as soon as possible, preparing for his inauguration as mayor and the initial council meeting of the next term, scheduled for Nov. 17.
Addressing traffic concerns will be his first priority.
“I sat down and did a swat analysis of our community in the last couple of days; I’ve got a 100-day agenda moving forward, but the outstanding issue coming forward was traffic,” Leduc said. “So we’ll deal with traffic and speeding; that’s the number one issue for us.”
With Ward 3 Coun. Gary Lamb losing his seat at the table, Leduc becomes the second most tenured member of council, behind Dykie. He sees the mix of new faces and incumbents as perhaps the greatest opportunity of the new term.
“The greatest opportunity for us is to build a team, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “The good thing is that I have some very experienced councillors coming with me, that have been with us at council for the last little while. With the new councillors coming in… we can meld that team together. We can show exactly what it’s about to be a team, and you have to be a team to get things done.”
Where there is an opportunity for cohesion at council, the potentially greatest challenge for Leduc is reaching out to nearly 47 per cent of voters who cast their ballots for one of his competitors. He wants to bring them onside and make sure they have the ability to have their voices heard.
“I want to be open – I said that throughout my whole campaign – I want to be accessible,” Leduc said. “I want to be accountable, and I want to make sure they have the ability to come and see me. So, I will build those bridges up.”
Placing second was Di Giovanni, who took home 34.8 per cent of the vote in his first attempt at municipal office. His supporters gathered at Perfect Szn to celebrate a hard-fought campaign, albeit without the result they were hoping for.
There, he offered congratulations to all those that put their name forward, including Leduc. He’s hopeful the spirit of those who ran in this election – and those that supported them with their vote – will continue to take an interest in the day-to-day affairs of the municipality.
“I like to see that the community is engaged, to continue to be engaged with council and what’s going on… and participate in the growth of Bradford and have their voices heard at council,” Di Giovanni said. “I think if that continues, it makes a better Bradford for everybody.”
Garcia placed third with 646 votes, while Lotter took home 451 votes.
In the deputy mayor race, Raj Sandhu was elected over Brent Fellman, with the former Ward 1 councillor taking home 62.3 per cent of the vote.
A 12-year veteran of Bradford West Gwillimbury council, Sandhu told supporters gathered at Boston Pizza that it’s up to the electorate to hold the new council to the promises it made while campaigning, including being fiscally responsible, improving traffic issues and building more affordable housing.
Sandhu said he felt good about his victory but is keenly aware of the responsibility it brings, including making sure what he and his supporters heard from residents while going door-to-door is represented at council.
“When we went door knocking, we had our issues that we wanted to bring up,” he said. “But then you hear people at the doors, and you realize that their issues are different than what you’re thinking.”
The one concern they heard regularly at the doors was about affordable housing.
“There was a lot of chat about affordable housing,” Sandhu said. “People weren’t talking about taxes as much as they were talking about affordable housing.”
Turnout for this election was 33.8 per cent of eligible voters, with 9,400 total votes cast.