Gary Zalepa will be the new lord mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Zalepa said as he entered the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre to applause and cheers Monday night. “I’m a bit overwhelmed.”
The unofficial results, with all polls reporting, showed Zalepa took home 3,724 votes, a total of 49.14 per cent, ousting incumbent Betty Disero by nearly 1,200 votes.
Disero polled 2,586 votes (34 per cent) and political newcomer Vaughn Goettler received 1,268 votes (17 per cent).
Zalepa entered the community centre at 9:18 p.m., about 10 minutes after the tally on the two screens in the auditorium showed he had won.
He was greeted by a swell of applause and hugs from about 40 supporters who had gathered there.
He led Disero all night but early totals showed a tight race, with Zalepa up by fewer than 300 votes.
But when the final handful of polls were posted his lead had zoomed into a landslide.
The race for council was a little tighter.
Erwin Wiens (4,978), Gary Burroughs (4,273), Wendy Cheropita (3,774), Tim Balasiuk (3,742), Sandra O’Connor (3,391), Nick Ruller (3,318), Adriana Cater Vizzari (3,152) and Maria Mavridis (2,897) will all be joining Zalepa on the new council.
Wiens took home the most votes of any council candidate at 12.28 per cent and will serve as the town’s new deputy lord mayor.
Incumbent council candidate Allan Bisback took 2,831, finishing 66 votes behind Mavridis.
Andrea Kaiser will be the town’s new regional councillor after winning 3,100 votes (44 per cent). Paolo Miele was second with 1,709 and William Roberts was third with 1,134.
In the race for Niagara District School Board trustees, Alex Bradnam (1,999), Lora Campbell (1,835), Kate Baggott (1,784) and Jonathan Fast (1,616) were elected.
Natalia Benoit (403) and Larry Huibers (357) will be sitting on the Niagara Catholic District School Board.
The new lord mayor and council will take office on Nov. 15.