CORNWALL – Voters had change on their minds as they headed into the voting booth and that translated into a resounding victory for Leslie O’Shaughnessy.
The real estate agent and former city councillor took over 50 per cent of the vote, beating incumbent Bob Kilger by nearly 900 votes (with 21 of 22 polls reporting). Jamie Gilcig came in a distant third.
O’Shaughnessy says he’s excited to get down to work. “The transition will not be that big for me but then again we have some new council members on board. There will be a transition for them but I’m sure they’re going to do great.”
Half of the council table will be new faces – Claude McIntosh, Justin Towndale, Carolyne Hebert, Brock Frost and Mark MacDonald. Those returning are Bernadette Clement, Elaine MacDonald, Maurice Dupelle, David Murphy and Andre Rivette.
Despite running on a platform of change, accountability and transparency, mayor-elect O’Shaughnessy says there wasn’t one issue that was his key to victory. “It’s a long campaign. Basically what I did is let the community talk among themselves. The strongest government you have is one that comes from the community up and I think that’s what we have now,” he said.
O’Shaughnessy says his first 90 days on the job will include tackling the water and sewer budget as well as a new “methodology” for transparency and accountability. “No more of the surprises a year after something starts, the public finds out. We have to change that.”
Bob Kilger says he’s disappointed but he’s proud of the “positive, respectful” campaign he ran. “I’m proud now that I will able to look back tomorrow morning and the days and weeks to come but, you know what, I was true to myself,” he said.
Kilger says he wouldn’t have changed anything about his campaign. “I wish I could have done more. But it would have always been the same – two markers – positive and respectful. I continue to be very optimistic about Cornwall’s future…it’s very bright. There’s a lot for the city to look forward to,” the outgoing mayor said.
He says the issue of a controversial pay raise, which would give councillors a 40 per cent pay hike, may have played into his defeat. “For some people that maybe wasn’t acceptable and I respect that. I respect their decision.”