Persechini only first-time politician to join East Gwillimbury Council
East Gwillimbury Express
By 11 p.m. Monday, Virginia Hackson said she could finally relax a little.
After a hard-fought campaign against longtime councillor Cathy Morton, Hackson emerged victorious, receiving 4,068 votes to Morton’s 2,897.
Collectively, East Gwillimbury council will have mostly familiar faces when it reconvenes in December.
Incumbents Marlene Johnston and Tara Roy-DiClemente were re-elected and Joe Persechini will join council for the first time. The big story of the night was former mayor James Young’s popularity after a brief hiatus from political life. Young received 3,880 votes, 600 more than second-place Roy-DiClemente, who had 3,261.
Johnston received 3,237, while Persechini garnered 2,784 votes. Former councillor Jack Hauseman missed out by 184 votes, while incumbent John Eaton was short by 502.
“It shows residents are positive about the direction we’ve been going,” Hackson said.
She credited her campaign team for keeping her motivated as she tried to talk with as many residents as she could. Hackson said her team knocked on 5,894 doors.
It was a competitive campaign from Morton, who said she is not shedding any tears in defeat.
“I have no regrets. When I wake up in the morning, the sun will be out,” she said. While she said her supporters were disappointed, Morton was happy with how she was able to get her message out to the people. “I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere. I wish Virginia the best over the next four years,” she said.
It was an especially difficult final weekend of the campaign for the Morton family, as her 40-year-old niece passed away from cancer.
Mount Albert was a key battleground in the mayor’s race.
With Morton being such a fixture in the community for decades, it was assumed the village would tilt toward her. The west part of Mount Albert voted for Morton, where she received 146 more votes.
Hackson, however, was able to get 23 more votes than Morton east of Centre Street. Hackson also carried the rural part of Mount Albert west of Hwy. 48 by 16 votes. Staying competitive in Mount Albert helped pave a path to victory for Hackson as she easily carried Holland Landing and Sharon and played Queensville to pretty much a draw. It was important for Hackson to campaign hard in Mount Albert.
“We were out there every week,” she said.
In a bizarre turn of events on election night, the vote count was temporarily delayed in Mount Albert for a few minutes when the power went out.
Incidentally, Mount Albert will not have an area resident serve on East Gwillimbury council.
With Morton relinquishing her seat to make a run for mayor, none of the candidates from Mount Albert were close to getting enough votes.
The atmosphere was joyous at the Hackson campaign celebration at JACX (formerly The Ladle) restaurant on Woodbine.
For Queensville supporter Sally Leck, it was sweet to bear all the fruits of the campaign labour. “It’s wonderful,” she said.
Supporters were proud that Hackson was able to get such a broad base of support from all across the municipality.
Hackson thanked her campaign team for the hard work and turned an eye toward next term.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “We have an experienced council.”
Every councillor elected except Persechini has served at least one term. The newcomer was elated to sneak into the fourth councillor position. “I really do love the community and will do the best I can,” Persechini said.
Instead of celebrating her victory, Johnston got right to work. She was out overnight with her campaign volunteers taking down her signs. “We were done by 6 a.m.,” she said.
Campaigning door-to-door, Roy-DiClemente has compiled a binder full of thoughts from residents. “It’s business as usual. I’m still doing the job as councillor. I have a laundry list of ideas I’m going to start working on,” she said.
Young intends to spend the next month recovering from the campaign and getting up to speed on certain issues that are set to come before council.
Will the new council play nice? “Sometimes things don’t go your way,” Persechini said, adding “We have to work as a team and swallow your pride and do what’s best for the people,” he said.