John Morgan is back as mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for a third term.

Morgan, who led a lawsuit against the province for more equalization money, handily defeated his two challengers, Donnie (Fuzzy) Bacich and Alan Nathanson.

CBC News declared him re-elected only 16 minutes after the polls closed on Saturday night. Within minutes, he was 8,000 votes ahead of the other two candidates. When all 236 polls were in, Morgan had 82 per cent of the popular vote.

"It's a strong result, obviously, but you don't know that as the campaign is unfolding," Morgan told CBC News. "It's been a long, difficult couple of months." 

The number of voters who cast a ballot for mayor is down from previous elections, according to the CBRM's returning officer.

Voter turnout was 49.88 per cent, with only two polls left to report.

Morgan was first elected mayor in 2000. In 2004, he was re-elected with around 80 per cent of the vote.

He said he considers his re-election to a third straight term as an endorsement of his stance on a number of issues.

"I grew up in this community and see it, as I perceive it, systematically abused by the provincial government and treated unfairly," he said.

Morgan's re-election certainly comes as no surprise, said Tom Urbaniak, a political scientist at Cape Breton University.

"John Morgan has cast himself as a lonely but heroic crusader," he said.

Morgan led a lawsuit against the provincial government, arguing the CBRM should get a greater share of the equalization money coming from the federal government.

He accuses the province of underfunding the CBRM by $20 million since 1995, when Sydney and neighbouring communities were amalgamated into one municipality.

In April, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court rejected the suit, calling it "absolutely unsustainable."

At the time, the municipality had spent $289,000 of a budgeted $600,000 on the legal fight.

"It's not just about the lawsuit," Morgan said Saturday night, "it's about speaking the truth."

Morgan will be joined on council by many of the same people as last time. Eleven of the 16 councillors are returning.

Here's the list of elected councillors by district:

  • District 1 - Brian Lahey.
  • District 2 - Kevin Saccary (acclaimed).
  • District 3 - Lee McNeil.
  • District 4 - George MacDonald.
  • District 5 - Darren Bruckschwaiger.
  • District 6 - Kim Desveaux.
  • District 7 - Jim MacLeod.
  • District 8 - Ray Paruch (acclaimed).
  • District 9 - Tom Wilson.
  • District 10 - Derek Mombourquette.
  • District 11 - Dave LeBlanc.
  • District 12 - Claire Detheridge.
  • District 13 - Mae Rowe.
  • District 14 - Gordon MacLeod.
  • District 15 - Clarence Prince.
  • District 16 - Wes Stubbert.

Municipal and school board elections were held around Nova Scotia on Saturday.