It was a result that shocked the incumbent mayor of Belleville, Taso Christopher. He was hoping to run a second term in the city, but had his seat taken by local businessman, Mitch Panciuk.
“Obviously the public wants to go in another direction,” Christopher said. “I fully respect that.”
The incumbent admitted defeat after just three polls were counted, conceding to his supporters that former councillor Mitch Panciuk was the winner. Panciuk, who is the former president of the Chamber of Commerce in Belleville, says he is elated at being given the mandate to lead the city, and hopes to bring real change to the position.
READ MORE: Belleville election results 2018
“I understand that this is more about changing the style and the way that the mayor does the job,” Panciuk says. “We’re going to continue to accomplish great things for Belleville going forward.”
Christopher has nearly a decade of experience on city council and one term as mayor of the city. He ran on a platform of wanting to develop the city’s waterfront and continuing growth in Belleville. Mayor-elect Mitch Panciuk, however, says he heard that constituents wanted change in the chambers.
“I just kept hearing, door after door, that people wanted change, and they saw me as that vehicle for change,” Panciuk says.
More than 36 per cent of voters cast their ballot for Panciuk, compared with 25 per cent for the incumbent. Egerton Boyce, a former councillor of 15 years, came in third with 21 per cent of the votes.
With five new councillors were elected, joining just three incumbents — almost an entirely new council — the mayor-elect will have a chance to change how things are done. Panciuk says he looks forward to advancing how the city government can pave the way while working together.
WATCH: Ontario municipal election results from Belleville and Brockville
“We’re going to talk about what their priorities are, what they heard coming out of the election and try and put it together in a platform as a whole council,” Says Panciuk.
Panciuk and his council will take office in December.