The unofficial results of the 2020 municipal elections in Lunenburg County are in, and perhaps one of the more positive side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was an elevated voter participation rate with voters casting their ballots by internet or telephone.
The Town of Mahone Bay reported a 70.3 per cent voter participation rate, while half an hour before the polls closed at 7 p.m. the Municipality of Chester was boasting a 69.7 per cent participation.
The Town of Lunenburg registered a 64.1 per cent voter turnout. However, the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg and the Town of Bridgewater were considerably more lackluster, with 43.9 per cent and 36. 4 per cent respectively.
The unofficial results as they've been made public are:
Town of Bridgewater
Mayor David Mitchell had been acclaimed.
Incumbent Cheryl Fougere led the race for a councillor's seat with the most number of votes - 1,688. Behind her was incumbent councillor Jennifer McDonald, 1,502 votes; and Deputy Mayor Andrew Tanner, 1,494 votes. Challenger Stacey Colwell has made it to the council with 1,473 votes; incumbent councillor Wayne Thorburne returns with 1,401 votes, and newcomer Mike Conklin comes to the table with 1,272 votes.
Not so lucky were challengers Erin Carr (1,145 votes); Sandra Mader (1,102 votes); Chad Frittenburg (1,004 votes) and Eric Wade (462 votes).
Councillors Bill McInnis and Wayne Michael Graves had indicated they would not be re-offering.
Municipality of the District of Lunenburg
At 43.9 per cent of eligible voters casting their choice, MODL's participation rate was marginally better than the last election, when 40.9 per cent marked an "x" by their preferred candidates.
But in a news release announcing the unofficial results, the municipality boasted a "record-shattering nine women" will be serving this term, surpassing the 2004 to 2008 council, which saw four women as members.
Carolyn Bolivar-Getson was re-elected as mayor with 5,437 votes; while 3,563 people voted for challenger Caleb Wheeldon.
Leitha Haysom was acclaimed for District 1 with incumbent councillor Eric Hustvedt announcing he would not be re-offering.
Martin Bell was re-elected in District 2 with 687 votes, 168 more votes than challenger Morgen Reinhardt.
District 3 will see a new councillor, with Wendy Oickle (339 votes) squeezing by the long-serving Lee Nauss (326 votes). The district's other challenger, David Sutherland, accumulated 172 votes.
District 4's John Veinot had indicated he would not be re-offering, and will be replaced by Pam Hubley, whose 662 votes were more than double that of challenger Bud Webster.
Cathy Moore will be returning as the acclaimed councillor for District 5.
Claudette Garland (404 votes), who has served for District 6 since 2012, will be replaced by Sandra Statton (490 votes).
District 7's Wade Carver will not be returning to council, with his 389 votes being well surpassed by Michelle Greek's 594 votes.
Following the announcement by Michael Ernst that he would not be re-offering as councillor for District 8, Kacy DeLong was acclaimed for the role.
Former councillor Frank Fawson had thrown his hat in the ring to challenge incumbent Reid Whynot for District 9, however, with 577 votes, Whynot was the clear winner over Fawson's 438 votes.
With Errol Knickle not re-offering in District 10, Chasidy Veinotte takes the seat with 442 votes, beating out Josh Healey's 323 votes and Ann Westhaver's 188 votes.
Town of Lunenburg
Lunenburg will be swearing in a new mayor. Councillor Matt Risser's 955 votes clearly surpassed challenger Deputy Mayor John McGee's 268. The two put their names forward after incumbent Mayor Rachel Bailey indicated she would not be re-offering.
The town had two council seats left vacant in the run-up to the election: one in June with the death of the councillor Joseph Carnevale, and one when the councillor Danny Croft announced he would not be re-offering.
The town's new council is as follows: Susan Sanford (838 votes), Stephen Ernst (759 votes), incumbent Peter Mosher (726 votes), Melissa Duggan (686 votes), Jenni Birtles (672 votes) and Ed Halverson (555 votes).
The incumbent councillor Ronnie Bachman (528 votes) will not be carrying forward. And challengers Kevin Corkum (504 votes), Theo Heffler (379 votes) and John Barr (369 votes) have missed out as well.
Meanwhile, voters in Lunenburg showed a clear preference for electronic voting, with voter participation in this election at 64.1 per cent compared to 45.6 per cent in 2016 and 58.8 per cent in 2012.
Chester will see little change to its council, post-election.
Only District 1 now has a new councillor -Andre Veinotte, who's 418 votes beat out incumbent Marshall Hector's 337, Challenger Terri Demont came a distant third with 122 votes.
Warden Allen Webber has retained his seat in District 4 with 365 votes, compared to challenger Steven Wayne Millett's 236.
So too has District 3's Danielle Barkhouse, with 623 votes, compared to Kerry Keddy's 140 votes.
District 5's Abdella Assaff returns with 616 votes, more than double Blake Rafuse's 229.
Sharon Church will be returning to the table for District 7 with her 487 votes, well ahead of Douglas Sharpham's 125 votes.
District 2's Floyd Shatford and District 6's Tina Connors were acclaimed.
Town of Mahone Bay
Registering a 70.3 per cent voter participation rate, the Town of Mahone Bay will see three new faces at its council: Alice Burdick (377 votes), Aaron Collery (157 votes), Francis Kangata (482 votes), and Kelly Wilson (439 votes).
Councillors returning are Penny Carver (459 votes), Joseph Feeney (384 votes), and Richard Nowe (352 votes).
David Devenne retained his mayor's position by acclamation.