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Mayoral race in Port aux Basques goes down to the wire

The new mayor of Port aux Basques is John Spencer, who defeated rival Brian Button by only eight votes.
The new mayor of Port aux Basques is John Spencer, who defeated rival Brian Button by only eight votes.

PORT AUX BASQUES, NL – It wasn’t exactly the Kentucky Derby, but having two popular and highly respected candidates vie for the mayor’s seat in Port aux Basques still made for an exciting finish to a strong race. 

As poll results came in, the lead alternated between John Spencer, a former deputy mayor and educator, and former mayor Brian Button. Up until the last poll reported, Button was in the lead by only nine votes, but once all votes were tallied Spencer won with 1,047 votes – only eight more than Button.

Button was gracious in defeat but did say he will likely request a recount.

“I will ask them just to check it, but it is what it is,” said Button, who knew it would be a tight race and says he now throws his support fully behind the new mayor and council. “We made it tough. I respect John totally.”

“It was really close. I predicted it was going to be close. I didn’t know it was going to be that close,” said a jubilant John Spencer minutes after the final tally.
“In the end, it was fantastic. People came out and we had a tight race.”

Spencer, who at one point danced to help break the tension in the room, admitted to moments of nervousness.
“I knew Brian was going to be a tough candidate to beat.”

Voter turnout was estimated to be just under 62 per cent, up about 30 per cent from the 2013 election, as more residents chose to make their voices heard.

Of the four candidates seeking re-election, only Bruce Burton failed to keep his seat.

Todd Strickland, who chose not to seek a return to the mayor’s chair, polled the strongest of all 14 candidates with 1,364 votes. New councillor and former town manager Melvin Keeping came in a close second at 1,301 votes.
The four remaining seats went to Justin Blackler (1,190), James K. Lane Sr. (1,147), Jerome Battiste (1,054), and Chester Coffin (876).

Defeated were Bruce Burton (838), Todd Anderson (743), Rick Farrell (599), Cory Allen (417) and Bob Hinks (343). Of the three women seeking a council seat, Velda Pretty polled the strongest with 551 votes, but was kept well out of the running throughout. Tracey Lomond earned 332 votes and Sandra Spencer won the least votes of all candidates with only 152 cast in her favour.

Update: Brian Button has indeed requested a recount, which will take place at 2 pm on Thursday, September 28th.

Rosalyn.roy@gulfnews.ca

Twitter: @tygerlylly

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