The Doc is back in; O’Keefe re-elected St. John's mayor

Dennis O’Keefe cruised to victory over challenger Sheilagh O’Leary, winning by 15 percentage points.
Dennis O'Keefe has been re-elected mayor of St. John's. (CBC)

Dennis O’Keefe has been re-elected mayor of St. John’s, defeating challenger Sheilagh O’Leary by 15 percentage points.

O’Keefe garnered 20,047 votes in an unofficial count issued by City Hall around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday. O’Leary took 14,375.

“I think the voters realize that I had provided, over my career in council, a lot of good leadership,” O’Keefe told CBC News.

He said that, over the next four years, the city needs to take advantage of opportunities coming its way, while at the same time meeting the challenges associated with them.

O’Keefe, a longtime veteran of St. John’s council, was first elected as councillor at large in 1997 and re-elected four years later. He ran successfully for deputy mayor in 2005.

In 2008, O’Keefe won the byelection that was called when Andy Wells vacated the mayor’s chair to take over the province’s Public Utilities Board. He kept the job in the 2009 general election.

Tuesday’s result gives him four more years at the city's helm.

O’Leary was first elected to council in 2009, rolling up the largest margin of votes of all at-large candidates.

"Certainly, of course, you know I'm disappointed," O'Leary told reporters late Tuesday night. "I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this campaign."

Geoff Chaulk finished a distant third, with just 589 votes.

Ellsworth back as deputy mayor

After a four-year hiatus, Ron Ellsworth was returned to the position of deputy mayor. Ellsworth was first elected ward councillor in 2005, before winning the byelection for deputy mayor in 2008. He lost the mayor’s race to O’Keefe in 2009.

Ellsworth easily defeated his sole challenger, Jennifer McCreath, rolling up an 83 per cent share of the vote.

Sandy Hickman and Tom Hann – the only two incumbents to re-offer for councillor-at-large – were returned to their positions.

They will be joined by newcomer Dave Lane and former councillor Art Puddister.

All ward incumbents who ran again were returned – Danny Breen by acclamation in Ward 1, Bruce Tilley in Ward 3 and Wally Collins in Ward 5.

Jonathan Galgay replaced his retiring uncle Frank Galgay in Ward 2, while Bernard Davis took Ward 4.

City officials said voter turnout was 53 per cent.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.