Charles Pender, in his second stint as mayor, failed to be re-elected for the second time after consultant and business owner Jim Parsons swept to an overwhelming win in Tuesday night's municipal election.
Parsons led from the first of 37 polls to report. Pender conceded victory to Parsons not long after the challenger's numbers topped 3,000 votes.
Parsons ended up garnering 3,775 of the 6,720 votes cast for mayor.
“We have a lot of connecting to do with the community,” said Parsons after the win. “We have to figure out a way to provide better customer service to Corner Brookers and I think we need to jump start our path toward a better reputation when it comes to business.”
While the effort to mend Corner Brook’s perception as a difficult place for business development now falls to Parsons and his council, Pender said it’s not the only thing the city is earning a reputation for.
“In any other community, if you do a good job, have good governance and do what people want over four years, generally you’re rewarded by being re-elected, but not in Corner Brook for some reason,” Pender said. “I have no idea why that is.”
It has been 24 years since Corner Brook brought back a mayor for a second straight term, though this was Pender’s second time as mayor, having served from 2005 to 2009.
Pender said his polling had him possibly winning a close victory, but said the voter turnout just wasn’t there to support that prediction.
Parsons said his polling indicated the sort of result that transpired Tuesday was quite a good possibility.
Four incumbent city councillors, Tony Buckle, Josh Carey, Linda Chaisson and Bernd Staeben were voted back in.
Parsons is glad to have a mix of experienced council members and two new faces in Bill Griffin and Vaughn Granter.
“We have a council that’s brand new,” said Parsons. “I have to work with them and gain their trust. Let’s get together and let’s talk about our plan — our plan, not my plan.”
The mayor-elect said there will be changes, but he’s not about to shock the system already in place.
“You can’t just hijack every process,” he said. “Of course there are new initiatives you want to bring forward as a council.
"It will definitely be a mix, but there’s a need for change and we have seen from voters there’s an appetite for change.”
By the numbers ...
Jim Parsons, 3775
(i) Charles Pender, 2945
Bill Griffin, 2,933
Vaughn Granter, 2,741
(i) Linda Chaisson, 2,579
(i) Bernd Staeben, 2,564
(i) Josh Carey, 2,514
(i) Tony Buckle, 2,317
Lenny Benoit, 2,268
Katrina Basha, 2,224
(i) Keith Cormier, 2,104
Pamela Gill, 2,024
Leo Bruce, 1,961
Devon Pardy, 1,924
Brian Sparkes, 1,885
Donna Wheeler, 1,616
Priscilla Boutcher, 1,283
Tom Stewart, 1,078
Kyle Brookings, 857
Maureen Mennie, 543