Saint John’s new mayor, Mel Norton, who was sworn in Monday night, beat outgoing mayor Ivan Court in all corners of the city, a detailed analysis of the electoral results shows.
Norton, who won the May 14 municipal election by a landslide, earning 75.6 per cent of the vote, took every poll in every neighbourhood decisively.
The 38-year-old lawyer and relative newcomer to politics swept through the poorest sections of the south and north ends and dominated the wealthy enclave of million-dollar homes in Millidgeville.
He also took the rural vote from Loch Lomond on the east side, to Martinon in the west and blitzed the inner city in the four-race race that included Matthew D. Thompson and Joseph Alan Callahan.
Norton's campaign for change sacked Court’s strongholds at every turn, signaling a strong desire for change in the city.
Even Court's home poll in Monte Cristo Park abandoned him, voting 105 to 39 for Norton.
'It looks like there was a real appetite for change in Saint John.' —Tom Bateman, political scientist
The west side community of Milford that favoured Court with 64 per cent of the vote in a five-way race in 2008, also flipped to Norton this time at 65 per cent.
"It looks like there was a real appetite for change in Saint John," said Tom Bateman, a political scientist at St. Thomas University.
"Another trend that competes with incumbency is that politicians need to be fresh and continually appealing to voters and possibly, the shelf life of a politician is getting shorter," Bateman said.
On election night, Court suggested his loss stemmed from negative media coverage and the amount of money spent on Norton's campaign.
The political scientist said Norton's massive victory was likely helped by the many serious issues facing the province's largest city.
"We’ve got a very serious pension issue and fiscal question in Saint John and it looks like with that [defamation] trial [against former councillor John Ferguson] that took place in the city, lots of visibility, lots of media coverage, a lot of that transferred into a electoral bashing," Bateman said.
Norton, who only entered politics a year and a half ago, winning a councillor’s seat in a byelection by a margin of 124 ballots, claimed 17,309 votes this time around, while Court garnered only 3,494.
The last Saint John mayor to enjoy such a major victory was Elsie Wayne in 1992, when she beat her closest competitor Hazen Fulton by nearly 16,700 votes.
Court, who hadn’t lost an election in 14 years, conceded defeat less than an hour after the polls closed.
The other mayoral contenders, Thompson, a construction firm owner, and Joseph Alan Callahan, a retiree, earned 1,278 and 828 of the ballots respectively.
Norton campaigned on the need for change, with the mayor and council, unions, and city staff all working together, along with citizens, neighbouring communities, and the provincial and federal governments.
He also pledged to fix the $193-million pension deficit, improve water quality, roads, and public transit without introducing any new taxes.
Several new councillors were also elected.
Of the five incumbents who sought re-election, only Ward 1 Coun. Bill Farren and Ward 3 Coun. Donnie Snook were successful.
The other members of the new council include: Shelley Rinehart and former mayor Shirley McAlary as councillors-at-large, Greg Norton in Ward 1, Susan Fullerton and John MacKenzie in Ward 2, Donna Reardon in Ward 3 and Ray Strowbridge will serve in Ward 4.