Burlington elects new mayor, Marianne Meed Ward

Burlington has a new mayor. Two-time councillor Marianne Meed Ward has taken the seat after a race that had moments.

Two-time councillor Marianne Meed Ward has defeated two-term mayor Rick Goldring

Marianne Meed Ward won the mayoral election with 46 per cent of the vote. (Marianne Meed Ward/Facebook)

Burlington has a new mayor. Two-time councillor Marianne Meed Ward has taken the seat after a testy and at times "dirty" race dominated by development-related issues.

Meed Ward beat incumbent Rick Goldring, who has served as mayor since 2010.

She won with 46 per cent of the vote.

"It's a great day for the city of Burlington. The people have spoken. They wanted positive change and new leadership to include them in decisions," said Meed Ward. 

With the contentious issue of overdevelopment particularly in the downtown, the new mayor has been elected on a promise to combat the issue. 

Meed Ward won despite becoming the punching bag for political attack ads in what was considered to be a dirty race. 

We need to look immediately at the official plan for downtown Burlington.- Marianne Meed Ward
"It was the most negative campaign in the history of Burlington, but it showed that hate never wins. Negative attack ads, hidden money, dirty politics never wins," she said. "We rose above it."

40 per cent of the 128,238 eligible voters cast a ballot. 

"We have the hopes and aspirations of the City of Burlington on our shoulders and I feel that weight that I am so ready and excited to get started," said Meed Ward. 

First on the agenda 

As Meed Ward takes the reins, she'll be saddled with how to handle Burlington's new development — she's campaigned on stopping it. 

After claiming victory she told CBC News her first order of business as mayor is tackle just that. 

"We need to look immediately at the official plan for downtown Burlington and work with the council to make some amendments," said Meed Ward. 

In her platform she called it "reasonable growth, not overdevelopment."

She campaigned on amending the downtown plan to remove up to 30 more highrises and ending overdevelopment by sticking to zoning. 

An alternative to housing prices in Toronto, Burlington has become popular destination.

It's becoming more expensive though. 

I knew it was going to be a tough race, but I didn't see the degree of the margin coming.- Rick Goldring

Housing prices in the Burlington-Hamilton-Grimsby area have been on the incline nearly every year since 2008.

The popularity is adding to the stress on the city's infrastructure. 

To combat the issue, Goldring suggested to the province it make Waterdown part of Burlington — a plan Fred Eisenberger called "outrageous" — and suggested that Hamilton should annex all of Burlington.

In her platform, Meed Ward said, "overdevelopment can't be blamed on Places to Grow, and won't be solved by annexing Waterdown."

Meed Ward also said that council will have to get ahead of cannabis, which is already on the city's doorstep. 

A dirty campaign

Along with Goldring, Marianne Meed Ward beat mayoral candidates Mike Wallace, a former Conservative MP and Greg Woodruff, a business owner. 

"I knew it was going to be a tough race, but I didn't see the degree of the margin coming," outgoing mayor, Goldring told CBC News. "I don't think any campaign I could have put together would have turned the tide on this one."

It wasn't the cleanest of races. Meed Ward was on the receiving end of a lot of attack ad slinging.

Back in August residents reported receiving telephone surveys with statements made about Meed Ward that she says were "untrue, inflammatory and defamatory."

As part of the survey, residents were told to rate statements on a scale of one to 10 how likely they were to change their vote because of them.

Meed Ward's supposed statements dealt with topics like her position on domestic violence, the hijab, and unemployment.

Goldring declined having any involvement.

They were done by Toronto-based consulting firm, Campaign Research.

Earlier this month a flyer was distributed by Ward 3 candidate Peter Rusin, depicting Meed Ward as irrational, manipulative and bad at math. 

The ad compared her and Goldring. 

Rusin previously told CBC News that it was about, "telling people the truth" when he sent out the two-page flyer. 

Goldring again declined any involvement. 

On election night Goldring thanked the residents of Burlington for the past eight years.

"It's been an honour, it's been a privilege," said Goldring. "I hold my head high, I'm proud of what I've been able to achieve along with my colleagues on council."

Here's a look at Burlington's new city council: 

Ward 1

Kelvin Galbraith - 21.36 per cent

Ward 2

Lisa Kearns - 39.77 per cent 

Ward 3

Rory Nisan - 54.05 per cent 

Ward 4

Shawna Stolte - 55.76 per cent

Ward 5

Paul Sharman - 33.99 per cent 

Ward 6

Angelo Bentivegna - 35.73 per cent 


Laura Clementson is a producer for CBC's The National. She can be reached at laura.clementson@cbc.ca. Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraClementson.

With files from Samantha Craggs