Wayne Olson has won the Ward 1 by-election called to fill the Pelham Town Council seat left vacant by Councillor Mike Ciolfi’s passing in April.
Unofficial results to be certified on Wednesday by Town Clerk Nancy Bozzato have the retired Chartered Accountant taking 57.9% of the total vote, with nearest challenger James Federico earning 25% (681 votes for Olson, 296 for Federico).
Olson and a small group of supporters gathered outdoors Tuesday evening to celebrate at Country Boys Mobile Food Services, on Victoria Avenue in Fenwick. The vote tabulation took less than 15 minutes, with results being posted on the Town website at about 8:15 PM. Polls closed at 8 PM.
Despite the pandemic, turnout was higher than for the last Ward 1 by-election, held in 2011, when 805 voters came to the polls. This time around, 1177 total voters turned out—469 between two advance polls, held on September 3 and 12, and mail-ins, and 708 on election day itself.
In a statement that appears in full below, Olson thanks Ward 1 residents, his campaign team, and Town staff for safely conducting what turned out to be one of the first Canadian elections held during the pandemic.
Mayor Marvin Junkin congratulated Olson for his victory.
“During this campaign, I had the pleasure of meeting or at least talking to the majority of the candidates, so I know firsthand that the residents of Ward 1 had a plethora of quality candidates to chose from,” Junkin told the Voice.
“In electing Mr. Olson, Ward 1 is getting a well-rounded individual, whose many varied life experiences, coupled with his dedication to community improvement, will make him a valuable asset on council. I look forward to working with Wayne, and along with the other members of council welcome him to the team.”
Also stopping by to offer their congratulations were Niagara Regional Councillor Diana Huson, MPP Sam Oosterhoff, and Pelham CAO David Cribbs.
Oosterhoff remembered calling Olson a few weeks back only to have the conversation cut short when Olson said that he was at a voter’s door.
“I thought that’s great,” said Oosterhoff. “He’s out there and he’s talking to people….and you know that’s often when it comes down to, is doing the legwork. Hearing from people and their issues…I don’t think he’s going to pull punches. I think he’s going to be upfront. And frankly, people find that refreshing because they’re sick and tired of people saying different things to different people at different times.”
CAO Cribbs joked that he would be giving Olson a thick stack of reading materials to prep with. Olson responded, “I can handle it.”
The Voice reminded Olson that he would be giving up his crossing guard job, so he’d have plenty of free time to do the reading, prompting a laugh and his response, “I’ve got to give up my favorite job on the planet.”
Olson asked Cribbs when he could get started, and Cribbs responded, “I think we start tomorrow morning.”
“Okay, that’s good for me,” said Olson.
The results, rounded to the nearest whole, for the remaining four candidates who actively campaigned were: Maria Brigantino, 2% (22 votes); Wally Braun, 8% (89 votes); Colleen Kenyon, 1% (11 votes); and Steven Soos, 6% (73 votes). Former Town Treasurer Cari Pupo filed to run, but later pulled out of the race. She earned half of one percent of the vote (5 votes).
Statement by Councillor-elect Wayne Olson
There are many positive things to say about my fellow candidates in this election. I want to begin by thanking and congratulating them for a thoughtful and responsible campaign. Many of their ideas and concepts are very useful and interesting. As a group, we shared a vision of a better Pelham.
I also want to make a statement of appreciation to our Town Clerk and staff for the care and attention given to the many legitimate safety concerns around COVID-19 and the 2020 election.
Of course, I want to thank the citizens of Ward 1 who welcomed me into their homes and workplaces. They told me their legitimate concerns about debt, taxes and services in a very constructive manner. An engaged electorate is a powerful thing and we need to stick and act together.
In the next few days, I am expecting to meet with Mayor Junkin and my new colleagues on council and with staff. I will be listening closely for their objectives, methods and how they want to have their efforts measured. I will also want to know what they need to succeed and meet our community objectives.
The next few months will busy with strategic plans, budgets and forecasts and committee work. It is also apparent that COVID-19 remains a threat. We need to be concerned about our businesses. Our Town needs to everything possible to support the conditions for commercial success.
An important item is the Niagara Official Plan, which will shape our future until 2051. There are six online plenary sessions from September 23 to October 21. The topics include the natural environment, growth management, urban design, agriculture and infrastructure.
I have registered for all of the sessions. The website to register is niagararegion.ca/official-plan. Please join me and participate in this great opportunity.
In closing, I want to sincerely thank my campaign team, who made this such an enjoyable and rewarding experience. In going door-to-door, I spoke to hundreds of wonderful people.
As always, I also want to recognize and appreciate our volunteer community, especially in these uncertain times.