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Veteran councillor takes one of Newmarket's top political jobs by slim margin

“I think tonight’s results shows that Newmarket residents embraced a positive campaign and rejected a negative one. My opponent tried to smear me and it didn’t work,” regional councillor and deputy mayor-elect Tom Vegh said after a hard-won victory against Chris Emanuel.

Newmarket’s regional councillor and deputy mayor-elect Tom Vegh “feels great” and is looking forward to getting down to business with the Town’s newly elected council.

Vegh was at the Municipal Offices tonight to watch the results of Newmarket’s first electronic local election pop up on the big screen, along with a handful of residents.

The 15-year council veteran edged out his political rival by a slim margin of 3.2 per cent to win the seat. The unofficial results are 8,570 votes for Vegh, 7,952 for challenger Chris Emanuel, and 2,688 votes for candidate Joan Stonehocker.

“I’m looking forward to accomplishing a lot with the new mayor and councillors,” Vegh said. “I’m also looking forward to meeting my new regional councillor colleagues and to what we can accomplish together.”

Vegh ran on a platform of increased housing options for seniors, reducing speeding on residential streets, building a new dual purpose library and seniors’ centre, expanding downtown parking, and more.

The race for one of the Town’s top political job became scrappy in the weeks leading up to tonight’s vote.

Challenger Emanuel, a former councillor who served three terms, took several runs at Vegh’s campaign platform, including distributing a flyer around town that warned voters Vegh’s platform would see a “40 per cent” property tax increase.

The former politician also released a video on his Facebook page, saying his opponent would cause the Town to “spiral into debt and, along with it, see our property taxes rise more than 30 per cent.”

Results of a telephone town hall that Emanuel released Oct. 13 again took aim at Vegh’s campaign promises. The candidate reported that 93 per cent of respondents opposed Vegh’s election plan that, as estimated by Emanuel himself, could increase property taxes.

Emanuel could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

“I think tonight’s results shows that Newmarket residents embraced a positive campaign and rejected a negative one,” Vegh said. “My opponent tried to smear me and it didn’t work.”

Vegh hugged friend, Sue Clark, and shook hands and celebrated his win with a few residents who came out to witness the Town’s first digital election.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s the first time we’ve voted online,” said Dianne Wood, who runs the popular Facebook group Newmarket Votes.

Similarly, resident Valerie Luttrell was interested to see how the election results would unfold online.

“I always vote,” she said. “I vote for a candidate who is engaged, approachable, willing to respond to residents and do the work that needs to be done.

The election results became known about an hour after the electronic polls closed at 8 p.m., with no technical hitches. Voter turnout was 34.7 per cent, down slightly from 36 per cent in the 2014 municipal election.

The slight decrease in turnout is likely because there were two acclamations, and voters in two wards weren’t required to cast ballots, Town Clerk Lisa Lyons said.

“We put a lot of thought into choosing the (electronic voting) vendor, and we did our due diligence,” Lyons said. “Our team worked hard and it showed.”

To see all the unofficial results, visit here

The official election results will be posted Oct. 23 on the Town’s election website


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Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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