Election season is finally over, and we have a new mayor.
On Tuesday night after the polls closed, Dan McShane conceded to Dan Pike, and it was definitive. By the next day, election results showed that there were 15 percentage points separating Pike from McShane.
What’s amazing to me about this story is how no one could have predicted this outcome when the candidates filed in the first week in June. Out of the seven candidates, Pike was one of the least well known, and he had his work set out for him to build a reputation and talk with as many people as he could.
He took that task seriously. He knocked on doors, went to events, dropped into offices — even on election day, he could be seen waving to last-minute voters on Holly Street.
At the October candidate forum that The BBJ co-sponsored with the Chamber of Commerce, Pike opened his remarks by asking how many people knew him before he registered as a candidate. About three people raised their hands. He asked how many people knew of him now. Of course, every hand in the room (expect, perhaps, McShane’s) went up.
It’s a testament to the tenacity of our new mayor, and I hope we will see more of that tenacity when he begins to occupy his office in City Hall.
I have been encouraged by his words to bring the business community more into City Hall, and I hope he follows through with that. He has stated, however, that he believes in zero growth in the urban growth areas, and he will need to reconcile that with his new staff, who studied the issue for five years and recommended that the UGA be expanded by about 2,200 acres. I imagine there will be interesting discussions in City Hall about growth issues.
Ultimately, it is the City Council which has the power to negotiate with the county to determine the UGAs, but the mayor has a strong position as a main advisor to the council and the leader of city staff.
And speaking of the City Council, change is afoot there as well. As of press time, it looks as if incumbents Louise Bjornson and Terry Bornemann have bested their challengers, but regardless of the final results, at least three new council members will be on the City Council next year. Jack Weiss ran unopposed to replace Bob Ryan, and it looks as if Barry Buchanan and Stan Snapp will be the new kids on the council.
Change can be good, as it reflects the changing nature of our town. The City Council has made some controversial decisions in the past few years, including the big box moratorium, and I have no doubt this issue will come back before the council before too long. Perhaps this new council will have different views on the subject.
It’s a new day, and let’s hope our new leaders are up to the challenge.