In the closest mayoral race the island’s ever seen, decided by a matter of two votes, Bowen has elected Gary Ander as mayor.
Melanie Mason and Ander were neck and neck for most of the evening, with Mason for the most part leading, until the very end. Ander ended with 896 votes to Mason’s 894.
This isn’t the first time Bowen’s election has been close –four years ago Murray Skeels defeated his opponent a mere 14 votes.
Mason has asked for a recount, which will happen early next week. In the case that the recount ends in a tie the chief elections officer can ask for a judicial recount and if that's a tie, the mayorship will be determined by draw.
Ander, 68, is finishing up his first term as a Bowen councillor. As a fulltime islander of around 25 years, Ander has served on more than a dozen municipal and community committees and boards. The father of five and grandfather of many is a retired Air Canada pilot and semi-retired contractor on-island. Ander said in his Undercurrent profile that his priorities would be “Supporting a diverse population, which is the core of a healthy community. Protecting at all costs our ‘natural capital,’” and, “Efficient, effective and fair governance that works for the taxpayer.”
“You never want to win an election that close,” said Ander Saturday evening. “But you move on and make it happen.”
“I think we’re going to have an amazing council,” he said. “We’re going to try and bring everybody along with us.”
Turning to Bowen’s six councillor seats, all the incumbents running for re-election are returning to council. Alison Morse, who has been elected for the seventh time, is the only incumbent to have served on more than one council (she’s served on all of them since Bowen incorporated in 1999.) Maureen Nicholson, Michael Kaile and Sue Ellen Fast are finishing up their first term and David Hocking was a councillor a decade ago. Rob Wynen is the only person elected who hasn’t served on council.
Sue Ellen Fast is staying on as Islands Trust Trustee but Michael Kaile will replace Alison Morse as one of two Bowen representatives on the federation of islands. This is Kaile’s first time being elected to the Islands Trust. While Fast is a staunch supporter of the Trust’s role on Bowen, Kaile suggested that the island needs to renegotiate its relationship with the organization.