The people of Prince Rupert have spoken and their message was simple: We want change.
Heading into Saturday’s municipal election, there was a lot of buzz on the street about Lee Brain. The youngest and most inexperienced of the three candidates seeking election to the highest position in the city had a strong support base after running a campaign centred around bringing a new energy and new ideas to city hall. Through social media, Brain was able to directly speak to and with the electorate in a way no other candidate has before — ask a question and get an answer from the man himself.
And yet, despite his energy and promise of change, there were those who questioned whether Prince Rupert was ready for a mayor who had not previously been involved in municipal government in any way, shape or form.
The answer was not only yes, but an overwhelming yes. To call it a landslide would be an understatement — Brain didn’t so much as defeat the other candidates as crush them at the polls. If one were to add together every vote received by Jack Mussallem, Tony Briglio and Sheila Gordon-Payne, Brain would have still won by more than 700 votes, a number that would be considered a landslide on its own.
People may have been projecting a win for Brain, but you would be hard-pressed to find too many people who projected this magnitude of a win.
Brain now joins a council composed largely of politicians who are just dipping their toes into the pool of municipal government. Aside from Nelson Kinney and Joy Thorkelson, no candidate has more than 13 months experience on the job, including three councillors who have never been elected before. Gone are incumbents Anna Ashley and Gina Garon, voted out after two terms of solid performance at the table. Of the seven people in chambers, four are completely new.
The people of Prince Rupert wanted change and they got it. Now to see if the change at the ballot box translates into a new direction at city hall.
After all, saying something and doing something are two very different things.