The results of the 2022 Guelph Municipal Election were predictable in some ways, but really quite surprising in others. Among the especially notable surprises is that while nine incumbents were running for re-election, only eight of them are coming back to the council table in the new term. As for those five new councillors, who are they exactly? Let’s go through the returns below!
Cam Guthrie was resoundingly re-elected to a third term as mayor with 71.21 per cent of the vote. His nearest competition was activist Danny Drew who drew (pun intended) 12.8 per cent of the vote followed by University of Guelph-Humber prof Dr. William Albabish in third with 7.69 per cent. Shelagh McFarlane (3.91 Per cent), John Edward Krusky (3.32 per cent) and Nicholas A. Ross (1.06 per cent) rounded out the race.
In the new Ward 1, two-term incumbent Dan Gibson sailed to re-election with 31.11 per cent of the vote, but his new wardmate is tech expert and disability activist Erin Caton who finished second in a very competitive race. Caton secured 18.58 per cent of the vote, which was 171 more votes than her nearest competitor, Thai Mac. The controversial Mac’s third place finish secured only 18 more votes that fourth place finish of Michelle Bowman, with Dhruv Shah (10.26 per cent) and Chidi Nwene (7.61 per cent) finishing in fifth and sixth place respectively.
One riding over in the new Ward 2, Councillor James Gordon’s desire to be succeeded by someone who’s not an old white man was answered. Small business owner Carly Klassen will sit in the second seat after securing 27.21 per cent of the vote, while Rodrigo Goller will return to council after securing 30.6 per cent of the vote. The rest of the very busy Ward 2 race turned out to be more of a contest for third with Rob Osburn getting 10.04 per cent, Raymond Sartor securing 9.55 per cent, and Ray Ferraro receiving 9.47 per cent. Elia Morrison (6.63 per cent), Morgan Dandie (4.94 per cent) and Billy Cottrell (1.48 per cent) rounded out the race.
Two-term incumbent Phil Allt had the best night of any candidate except for Guthrie, winning back his seat as Ward 3 city councillor with 39.24 per cent of the vote. Joining Allt on council is Michele Richardson, who will bolster the connections between the City and the County given her day job as Assistant Director of Human Resources at Wellington County. Richardson finished 65 votes ahead of election reform advocate Kevin Bowman in a race that was always very close all night long. Luc Cousineau and John Bertrand ran a close race for a fourth place finish with 10.71 per cent and 9.96 per cent, while Dallas Green (3.53 per cent), Sam Elmslie (2.3 per cent) and Nathan Ford (1.95 per cent) brought up the rear.
In Ward 4 (The Quatro!), Christine Billings handily won re-election with just over 30 per cent of the vote, and she will be joined on council by former Upper Grand District School Board chair Linda Busuttil who got the second most number of votes with just under 23 per cent. The race for second was tight for most of the night as Brendan Clark finished with 19.29 per cent followed by Adrian Salvatore with 13.52 per cent. Hitesh Jagad put on a good showing with 9.66 per cent, while Justin Van Deale finished with a little over 3 per cent. Anne-Marie Blackader, who withdrew after the close of election nominations and didn’t campaign, got 109 votes.
Ward 5 has the distinction of being the only ward to return two incumbent councillors to the horseshoe with Leanne Caron and Cathy Downer easily securing re-election with 35.09 per cent and 34.34 per cent respectively. Lana Haines finished a distant third with 10.39 per cent, followed by Alex Green (8.95 per cent), Hesham Genidy (7.13 per cent), and Denese Renaud (4.1 per cent).
The big upset of the night though happened in Ward 6 where two-term incumbent Mark MacKinnon was unseated by urban planner Ken Yee Chew. Just over 400 votes separated Chew and MacKinnon with the challenger securing 28.37 per cent and the incumbent getting 23.96 per cent. Chetna Robinson finished with 7.68 per cent, while Craig DiSero came in fifth with 3.98 per cent. Incumbent councillor Dominique O’Rourke came in first place and easily won re-election with 36.01 per cent.
Moving to the school board races, there will be a mostly new line-up at the Upper Grand Board, and the electorate seemed to avoid many of the more problematic candidates.
Wards 1 and 5 re-elected Martha MacNeil, and elected Luke Weiler, who lost to MacNeil in 2018 by only 41 votes. This time, Weiler finished second with 25.43 per cent, while MacNeil secured 38.3 per cent. First-time candidate Paul Nichols put on a good show but finished third 17.04 per cent. Mark Paralovos and Victor Ehikwe, both of whom were endorsed by far-right groups and anti-woke activists, finished with 10.17 per cent 9.06 per cent respectively.
With no incumbents in the race, the Wards 2, 3 and 4 seats went to Laurie Whyte with 34.72 per cent of the vote, and Ralf Mesenbrink with 18.62 per cent. Kyle Reaburn came in a close third with only 228 votes separating him from Mesenbrink with 17.4 per cent, while James Gollinger finished fourth with 12.4 per cent. Charles Albert and Jamal Nasir, who ran with election signs but no campaign website, finished with 9.68 per cent and 7.19 per cent respectively.
For the Ward 6 and Puslinch seat, Katherine Hauser blew away the competition by winning 64.58 per cent of the vote. Her closest competition was Lily Klammer-Tsuji with 21.15 per cent, followed by Cliff Pereira with 9 per cent and Allen Remley with 5.26 per cent.
Over in the Wellington Catholic District School Board, the full slate of incumbents was re-elected: Joe Tersigni (25.43 per cent), Marino Gazzola (21.3 per cent), Vikki Dupuis (19.61 per cent) and Sebastian Dal bo (14.04 per cent). The challengers struggled to be a match with Patrick MacCarthy finishing with just over 8 per cent, Steve Petric securing 6.58 per cent, and Robert Higgins, considering his near repeat of white replacement theory rhetoric, finished appropriately in last place with 666 votes (or 5 per cent).
The good news is that the election is a big win in terms of representation. On the new council, there are seven women plus one non-binary councillor, and two of the six wards are represented exclusively by women, Wards 4 and 5. There’s also now one person of colour on council.
The bad news? Voter turnout was pitifully low. Of Guelph’s 105,096 eligible voters, only 29,254 cast a ballot. That’s a turnout rate of 27.84 per cent, which is 9 points lower than 2018, and 17 points lower than the 2014 election.
To see the unofficial results click here. The City Clerks office will post the official results later this week.
The new council will be sworn in on Tuesday November 15.