The City of Vernon, B.C., released the official results of its byelection on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
They confirm Teresa Durning was the winning candidate by a margin of just 14 votes.
Durning, a House of Commons constituency assistant, beat out 10 other candidates over the weekend to fill a vacant seat on Vernon city council.
“I’m just grateful to the community for choosing me and I’m committed to making sure I do my very best,” said Durning.
The turnout was low. Less than five percent of the estimated 34,573 eligible voters cast a ballot and the top two candidates were separated by 14 votes.
Former councillor Catherine Lord was the runner-up.
“I was really surprised by the absolutely dismal voter turnout…it depressed me, actually,” Lord said.
Lord had retired from city council but was persuaded to run again.
After the loss, she’s not sure if she will return to civic politics in the future, but is urging residents to get engaged in local politics going forward.
“Just take back from this the fact that your voice really counts. I think Vernon is on the cusp of becoming much bigger. You need to let yourself be heard because council, they are seven people, they need input from pretty well all citizens,” Lord said.
Durning will be filling a seat on council left vacant when councillor Dalvir Nahal died of cancer earlier this year. The incoming councillor said Nahal wanted her to run.
“Dalvir was committed to this community, as am I, and I think she will always be a tremendous role model for me. I’ll continue battling for this community and the greater things that she believed could happen,” Durning said.
There is less than a year till the next general civic election, but Durning has a list of priorities to tackle in her short term, including advocating for middle- and low-income housing as well as businesses.
“Businesses are still struggling from the effects of the pandemic. They still have huge shortage in labour that is directly connected to the housing,” said Durning.
Climate and getting emergency services ready for the next fire season are also priorities.
“The fire season here was terrifying for the residents and we heard that on the doorsteps in our door-knocking during the campaign,” During said.
The new councillor is scheduled to be sworn in next week.
Amid housing crunch, Vernon rejects variances for controversial apartment building
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.