Marilyn McEwen is Ucluelet’s new mayor.
McEwen secured 381 votes in Saturday’s municipal election, earning 59.3 per cent of the vote and besting Rachelle Cole, 198 votes, and Bruce Faith, 64 votes.
Incumbent Mayco Noel did not run for re-election.
“I am so grateful to the town for respecting me for all the 25 years of service I have put into this town. I have put in volunteer hours for 25 years and it’s just amazing that they have accepted that and recognized that. I’m just so honoured,” McEwen told the Westerly News after the results were announced around 11 p.m. Saturday night.
She added that the first thing she did when she moved to Ucluelet 25 years ago was join the Pacific Rim Whale Festival Committee, which led to her connecting with the local Chamber of Commerce and Edge to Edge Marathon along with a myriad of other volunteer positions.
“I’ve just put in so many volunteer hours and it’s great because I love this town,” she said. “I love this community so much and I’m so grateful to be able to serve this community in many, many ways.”
McEwen is taking the helm of a relatively inexperienced council with just one incumbent candidate Jennifer Hoar who was acclaimed alongside three newcomers Shawn Anderson, Ian Kennington and Mark Maftei.
“It’s going to be really interesting to work with these people. I’ve met with each of them one-on-one and I’m just so impressed. They are amazing people. They are intelligent, they are thoughtful and I’m just so excited to work with them,” she said. “They are going to be on an incredible learning curve, because in the first term it is a learning curve, but they will catch on very, very quickly.”
Ucluelet cast 643 ballots out of 2,060 estimated eligible voters for a 31 per cent voter turnout in 2022’s municipal election, down from 2018’s participation that saw 796 ballots cast out of an estimated 1,276 eligible voters for a 62 per cent turnout.
In an emailed statement to the Westerly, Bruce Faith commended his fellow candidates’ efforts on the campaign trail.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate Marilyn and Rachelle on the great campaigns they both ran. The only disappointment for me is that I was hoping for Ukee to have a larger turnout to vote with only 39% of eligible voters,” Faith wrote. “To offset that, I must say that the campaign was fantastic, I met so many wonderful people and that confirmed that Ucluelet is still the greatest place to live. Thank you all and especially the people who did so much work for me on my campaign.”
Noel told the Westerly News he wasn’t sure who would come out on top on election night, noting the community had exceptional choices on the ballot.
“The community has spoken. It’s wonderful for the community and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with,” he said of McEwen.
“It was a tight race. For a lot of us there was uncertainty as it was going to be between Rachelle and Marilyn so, for me, there was a little bit of uncertainty which way it would go to be honest…Congratulations to Marilyn and I really want to give a big acknowledgement to Rachelle Cole who put her name forward in spite of everything else between Cops for Cancer and every other commitment she’s got. I really want to acknowledge that because she’s a very proud person in this community and is well respected and any kind of loss like this would be difficult.”
He also commended Bruce Faith for putting his name forward.
“He presented himself well and gave the community some options and I think that’s the biggest step forward, people putting their name forward. Marilyn proved to have a victory here in 2022 and she will lead this new council to wherever it needs to go. They’re unique individuals with great minds and I think it’s going to be good,” he said.
Noel served with Marilyn through the past two council terms and said she “absolutely” has what it takes to lead the community.
“She has all those qualities. She’s calm, she’s consistent, she’s passionate and, best of all, she really enjoys being in a lead role and facilitating council so it’s a natural fit,” he said.
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