Ralph Cipolla, a veteran city councillor of five terms, will work beside rookie politician Luke Leatherdale in Ward 2 over the next four years.
Cipolla earned 740 votes during Monday’s election (19.35 percent), while Leatherdale finished close behind with 708 votes (18.51 percent) in the ward that had the most candidates seeking election: nine.
“I want to thank the people of Ward 2 who have faith in me to do my best to make Orillia and Ward 2 better than it is today,” Cipolla said at the Orillia City Centre just moments after news broke of the final results.
Cipolla, who first became a city councillor in 1977, says he believes voters value his experience.
“I’ve worked really hard for this community,” said the 76-year-old downtown business owner. “People have faith in me to do the right thing and to care for the people I work for.”
A big issue Cipolla consistently heard while canvassing was safety in the downtown core.
“A lot of the younger people want the opioid crisis dealt with and I promised I would do it with the mayor’s task force,” he said. “The other big one is street calming on Barrie Road, Nottawasaga Street, and Mary Street.”
Cipolla says he will continue to advocate for keeping the Terry Fox Circle open to vehicular traffic.
“I want to make sure the park remains a part of the waterfront,” he said. “We don’t want it taken up by housing and everything else."
Cipolla says looking carefully at community expansion and affordable housing are also on his to-do list. He said he is looking forward to working closely with the city's new mayor, Don McIsaac.
“I think he’s going to do a wonderful job,” he said. “He has the experience as an accountant and we need a lot of work done in our financials to keep the taxes down at an affordable rate for Orillians.”
Luke Leatherdale says becoming a city councillor is “surreal.”
“I am very happy to represent the city that I love,” he said following Monday night's electoral victory.
Leatherdale, 36, says his success was built by taking the time to listen to people while canvassing. The key issues he heard from people were focused on homelessness, affordable housing, and development.
“People were very unhappy about our waterfront and how it’s being changed,” he said.
Leatherdale’s top priority as a councillor is to continue listening to people’s concerns. He will be taking those concerns to the table to be discussed among council members.
“We can come together to make Orillia a better place than it is now," said Leatherdale, a custodian at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board..
Here's how the other candidates fared:
- Gilles Depratto — 636 votes (16.63 per cent)
- Alan Bayne — 484 (12.66 per cent)
- Ian Gordon — 371 (9.70 per cent)
- Robert Winacott — 358 (9.36 per cent)
- Dael Morris — 240 (6.28 per cent)
- Brian Hare — 152 (3.97 per cent)
- Harold Dougall — 135 (3.53 per cent)