David Mitchell defeats Bridgewater’s incumbent mayor

by Keith Corcoran

A 43-year-old information technology trainer who won terms on Bridgewater council in 2004 and 2008 will be sworn in next month as the Main Street of the South Shore's newest mayor.

Empire Street resident David Mitchell ousted Elizabeth Avenue resident and retired teacher, David Walker, 68, the incumbent, who sought a second term as chief magistrate. Mitchell secured 1,348 votes to Walker's 960. A third candidate, Greg Ritcey, 51, a soon-to-be retired liquor store clerk, rounded out the three man race with 222 votes.

Mitchell, excited by the results and eager to work with council, committed to do his best to make the community proud.

"I'm humbled by the support and the confidence and the trust that the people of Bridgewater have in me," he said in an interview Saturday.

He acknowledged Walker's 25 years of public service and commended Ritcey for his electoral effort.

Mitchell said the public appreciated his honest responses, whether they agreed with him or not, on doorsteps as he campaigned.

After he and the rest of council are sworn in November 7, Mitchell intends to work towards establishing a youth and young adult committee in an effort to engage that demographic and tackle issues such as taxation and public transit.

  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN PHOTO</p><p>Bridgewater mayor-elect David Mitchell, right, celebrates victory with Mark Eisner, who worked on his campaign.</p>

Meanwhile, Walker told LighthouseNOW he accepts the outcome without any regrets. He congratulated his successor. "He and I are friends. This doesn't change anything," Walker said. "I'm confident that he will provide sound leadership to the town ..."

Walker figures he "wore" voters' unhappiness surrounding recent road construction work, but as he reflects on two-plus decades in municipal politics, the positives, he pointed out, outweigh the negatives.

"I'm really happy with the campaign that we ran," Walker added. "I would have liked a different result but the voters have made a choice."

And the idea of seeing his name on a ballot again, whatever the level of government, isn't appealing to him at the moment.

Dominion Street resident Ritcey expressed disappointment with the results but looks forward to working with Walker and Mitchell through the continuation of his committee work in the community.

"I just figure that people wanted a change and I wasn't part of the change," he said.

"I'm sure David Mitchell will carry the banner on and in four years we'll see where things go."

Voters likely haven't seen the last of Ritcey, who said his name could appear on a municipal ballot or in another capacity.

"I won't rule it out and I won't rule out a run for provincial [politics] either," he promised.

As for a federal election run, he said, "We'll see." "Politics is going to be in the future I can tell you that right now."

Five town councillors who sought re-election were returned to office. Andrew Tanner led the way with 1,963 votes. Newcomer, Cheryl Fougere of Alexandra Avenue, who previously served on the school board, was the second highest vote-getter with 1,892.

The 43-year-old was thankful for the support. "I think people appreciate you're willing to listen and you're open-minded," she said.

Fougere said she's up for the challenge of a different brand of civic politics. "Looking forward to it," she said.

Incumbents Wayne Thorburne, Bill McInnis, Jennifer McDonald and Michael Graves will return to council chambers. But Elm Street resident Chris Meister, new to the ballot, rounded out the ticket with 1,167 votes, coming up short in his bid for a council seat.

Michael Stewart won his Bridgewater school board bid, easily holding off challenger Iris Charlton by a 1,560 to 730 vote margin.

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