Coming in third in the municipal race for lord mayor wasn’t what Vaughn Goettler envisioned.
But still, the retired businessman was in good spirits Monday night as election results became clear that Gary Zalepa would be Niagara-on-the-Lake’s new lord mayor.
Goettler hosted a party to watch the results at his home on Ricardo Street. In total, he earned 1,268 votes, or 16.73 per cent of the ballots cast for mayor.
He said he doesn’t really feel like he lost.
“I don’t play to lose,” Goettler said during a speech to guests after the results were finalized.
The second thing he wanted to do was shake up the race, he said.
And he feels he accomplished that.
“I didn’t try and say it too broadly at the beginning, but I had two goals. Number one was to be elected — I don’t come out to lose, I honestly don’t,” he said.
“You know what they say, second place is first to lose. And I’m not even second place, so damn, you know, that’s really bad. But the truth of the matter is, I came out to win. The (goal) was for me to win, or to change the game.”
“And you did,” someone in the crowd said, to echoes and applause.
“I really did run to make a change in this town,” Goettler said. “And I do absolutely love this town.”
He talked about how he and his wife Lauren purchased their home with “about 10 minutes of thinking” between them and how they hope NOTL will be their last stop in life.
He thanked his supporters and campaign workers for their help, as well as the many people he said talked with him about the issues NOTL residents care about.
He entered the race late, filing his nomination papers Aug. 17, two days before the deadline.
“I was invited or connected with people who helped me learn about our community in a way that I could never have done,” the political rookie said.
“People have been kind enough to connect me with people who have taken their time to help me learn.”
“So many of you have been so kind with that time. And that’s something for which I’m eternally grateful.”
“If I could do it again, I’d do it again. Was it easy? It was not easy. It was very difficult and I think that I probably, hopefully, will have a really good sleep tonight,” he said to laughs.
Victorious council candidates Wendy Cheropita, Sandra O’Connor and Erwin Wiens also were among those who stopped by Goettler’s place.
Earlier in the evening, as the initial votes came in, Goettler had some similar sentiments to his final speech.
“From my standpoint, it has been the one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I’ve come to know the town in a way that I think very few people in the town, whether they’re old timers or newcomers, have had a chance to learn it,” he said.
“Because I couldn’t run unless I tried to speak to everybody I could who could educate me. And I feel like I know the issues. I know the soul and the heart of the town. And I feel like regardless what comes out of this election, I’m in a great position to try and help the town.”
A theme among his supporters during the night was that despite losing the election, some of Goettler’s talking points during the campaign could be on the new council’s agenda.
Among his priorities were creating a tourism plan that focuses on making NOTL a world-class destination and demanding that the province ensure NOTL isn’t subject to the same density targets as big cities.
“I sure hope so,” he said, adding he will work with the new council members in any way he can.
“I tried to address the issues that people were bringing to me,” he said.
“And I feel now like I have a much better picture of the town and a much better understanding of what really is important and what we need to do to protect what we have.”