The results are official.
Dana Lajeunesse has been named the winner of Sooke’s byelection by the narrowest of margins–winning the vacant council seat by only three votes on Saturday.
And Kevin Pearson, the candidate who came in second place, says he has no plans to request a judicial recount of the results.
Pearson, a former Sooke councillor and mayoralty candidate, had initially penned an email to Sooke’s chief electoral officer Carolyn Mushata and asked whether there will be a manual recount of the votes, and what the process will be for verifying rejected ballots “as to intent.”
He also asked whether the fact that two candidates – Kenneth Robar and Jeff McArthur – had signaled their withdrawal from campaigning was relevant.
Mushata’s response was quick in coming and stated that “under section 148 of the Local Government Act an application can be made for a judicial recount to be undertaken by the provincial court. An application may only be made on one or more of the following bases: that votes were not correctly accepted or ballots were not correctly rejected as required by the rules of section 139; that a ballot account does not accurately record the number of valid votes for a candidate; that the final determination under section 145 did not correctly calculate the total number of valid votes for a candidate.”
She advised Pearson that there had only been one rejected ballot because the individual had not completed the certification form indicating their eligibility to vote. She also noted that the fact that two candidates had signaled that they were withdrawing from active campaigning was irrelevant.
With that response received, Pearson said that as far as he’s concerned, the matter is closed.
“The process is over, and I just want to congratulate Dana,” he said.
“It was a squeaker, for sure, but if a judicial review is the only way to challenge the results, I’m not going to do that. I think it wastes too much time and effort. Now it’s time for Sooke to get down to business,” Pearson said.
“Still, Jeff (McArthur) got 58 votes and you have to wonder what would have happened if he wasn’t on the ballot.”
As to his future political plans, Pearson said that it’s far too early to even think about whether he’ll run for council again in three years.
“It’s done for now, and I’m sure Dana will do a good job.”
For his part, Lajeunesse thanked all his supporters and said that he was looking forward to his time on council.
“A large part of my campaign focus was on economic development, and I think that was a message that the community welcomed. I want to do what I can to help create a vibrant downtown and a welcoming business environment,” said Lajeunesse.
“It’s been tough for local retailers and I would love to see more people living and working in Sooke. If people are spending their lunch money in Victoria, it doesn’t do much for our community.”
He added that he has always loved Sooke and that he looks forward to working on their behalf.