South Dundas voters bring back Byvelds and welcome three newcomers to council

Happy to lead a new South Dundas team – South Dundas’ former mayor Steven Byvelds won his way back to the council table when on October 22nd he received 2,373 votes as compared to incumbent mayor Evonne Delegarde’s 1,758. He was happy to see municipal newcomer Kirsten Gardner elected as deputy mayor. Gardner will be South Dundas’ first female deputy mayor. She was elected with 1,753 votes. In this three way race Bill Ewing received 1,454 votes in his attempt to advance from his current council seat to deputy mayor. The third deputy mayor candidate Jim Graham received 944 votes. (The Leader/Comfort photo)

MORRISBURG – In a hard fought campaign, former South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds will return to the seat he lost to current mayor Evonne Delegarde four years ago.

At 8:50 p.m., Monday October 22nd Steven Byvelds was elected as the next mayor of South Dundas winning 57 per cent of the vote over Delegarde’s 43 per cent.

“In the end the people of South Dundas decided that they would take a new Steven back,” said Byvelds, at the South Dundas Municipal Centre where he and most of the candidates awaited the outcome of the election. “I certainly learned my lessons throughout the campaign, that I need to listen more and talk less.”

After being on the outside for four years, Byvelds knows he needs to be a better listener: four years of maturity have made a big difference.

Deputy-mayor elect Kirsten Gardner receives excited congratulations from her six-year-old daughter Reagan. (The Leader/Comfort photo)

Along with Byvelds, voters chose to elect newcomer Kirsten Gardner to the deputy mayor’s seat. She captured 42 per cent of the vote compared to Bill Ewing’s 35 per cent and Jim Graham’s 23 per cent.

Asked what she thought of the outcome Gardner said, “I’m thrilled. This is something I wanted to do. I have worked hard and I’m ready to work hard. This is just the start.”

“It’s not about the victory. It’s about the next four years. I want to see change. I’m driven. I want to make things better.”

Another municipal newcomer, Lloyd Wells, led the polls to win the first council seat with 19 per cent of the vote.

Wells was not at the municipal centre to receive the news. He told The Leader on Tuesday morning that he was at home asleep when his sister told him the good news.

“I felt good about the election going into it,” he said. “But I wasn’t 100 per cent sure of what would happen. I’m looking forward to getting in there to start cleaning up all the stuff that was left to us by the last council. They left a lot to us that needs to be taken care of.”

Wells said he thought for sure that voter turnout would have been higher with all the hype and concerns leading up to the election.

The second highest vote-getter of the councillor candidates was Donald Lewis, who captured 18 per cent of the vote.

“I had a lot of support out there,” he said. “I hope I can stand up for what I promised the people, all the people.”

“I think the citizens of South Dundas have picked an outstanding council to sit with,” added Lewis. “The last four years I saw a lot of stuff happening that I did not agree with. That’s maybe why it ended up the way it did.”

The third and final seat at the council table went to Archie Mellan who captured 17 per cent of the vote, narrowly edging out Joyce Latulippe by only 43 votes.

He said he is glad to be coming back, adding that it’s an honour and a privilege to be elected three terms in a row.

While waiting for the results Mellan appeared least on edge about the results: Asked why he said, “One very wise gentleman who was in municipal politics in Matilda told me many years ago that if you’re not prepared to lose, then you’re not ready to win.” Asked who that gentleman was Mellan replied. “He was my father.”

All of the council-elects are looking forward to being part of this new team.

“Everyone brings their own strengths to the table,” said Byvelds. “Kirsten will be a good deputy mayor. She certainly has a strong voice and a strong mind.”

“Archie has the experience and that’s a good thing,” said Byvelds. “And Donnie brings a unique perspective being a former staff member.” He added that Donnie also has the quality of having a big heart.

About Wells, Byvelds said, “Lloyd has a lot of building, life and business experience. I think that’s an asset at the table too.”

Gardner said that the group is an interesting one. “The people who put their names forward want change. They want to be connected to the community. Those are all things that I value.” She added that all of them have talked about follow through and making decisions. “It looks like we’ll have a group of people that can finally make some decisions.”

Delegarde did not attend the municipal centre for the election results, instead choosing to wait with family and friends at the local winery.

Delegarde has served on South Dundas council for nine years – the last four as mayor.

“I am very very proud of all the accomplishments that have happened during my term as mayor and in moving South Dundas forward to the great place it is today,” said Delegarde in a Facebook post.

South Dundas’ returning officer Brenda Brunt reported that everything ran very smoothly for both voting methods which included on line and composite ballot voting. Election officials waited until 8:15 p.m. to tabulate results to ensure no one was still in the voting system when they did so.

She explained that because there were two voting methods, there were multiple avenues to tabulate and to put the numbers together. “We wanted to verify everything, so it took a little bit longer,” said Brunt.

Voter turnout for the 2018 municipal election was 53.79 per cent, which is about two per cent higher than the previous election.

Of those who voted, 64 per cent chose to do so by internet and 36 per cent voted in person.