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Familiar crowd fills at-large council positions

The vocal minority’s call for change did not resonate at the polls on Monday. In Thunder Bay's at-large race, all four incumbent candidates seeking re-election were safely returned to city council.
Ken Boschcoff takes a phone call soon after learning he had won his bid to become an at large councillor for the City of Thunder Bay Monday. (Jeff Labine,
The vocal minority’s call for change did not resonate at the polls on Monday.

In Thunder Bay's at-large race, all four incumbent candidates seeking re-election were safely returned to city council.

Larry Hebert, Iain Angus, Rebecca Johnson and Aldo Ruberto will be joined by former two-time mayor Ken Boshcoff, who led all contenders with 22,516 votes.

Boshcoff said he can’t help but feel propelled by the amount of support from the community and said he hopes to answer the bell, as he takes over for Frank Pullia, who ran for mayor and finished third.

"I hope I can be a catalyst to actually gel the team because the issues are bigger than all of us put together," he said, celebrating his win at city hall, a venue he’s spent nearly half his life working from as mayor and councillor.

Boshcoff, who still holds the federal Liberal nomination in Thunder Bay-Rainy River, said he understands some voters wondered where his loyalties lay.

"It’s a very valid question and I haven’t been able to answer that, because I didn’t know what was going to happen," he said. "But when the community tells you they want you to be on city council, then I’ll have to do some thinking over the next few days and weeks."

Angus, back for a third term, said he was pleased to see he was once again in the top five, finishing third with 15,774 votes.

"At the at-large level name recognition is a key element," Angus said, adding that people in top of the alphabet have a better chance in at large races. "It’s very difficult for somebody who is not well-known to break through."

Also back for a third kick at the council can is Johnson, a popular former television personality who finished fourth with 14,201 votes.

"Needless to say I’m delighted to be back on council for another term," she said. "I’m looking forward to working with a new council."

There’s plenty of challenges ahead, she said, not having to mention the $126-million lawsuit the city is facing from Horizon Wind for council’s decision last week to only approve 14 of 18 turbine locations on the Nor’Wester Mountain range.

"I know the new council will work together to try to resolve the challenges," Johnson said.

Hebert, first elected in 2006, finished second this time around with 18,477 votes, and said he thinks his actions on council were what pushed him over the top. He said there’s plenty of work to be done, including the completion of the waterfront and progression on a proposed new multiplex facility.

"Those are probably the earliest ones we’ll be dealing with," he said, promising to continue to oppose the hotels and condos on the waterfront, but will support the multiplex, adding he’s OK with it going to a plebiscite.

Hebert said the call for change in some circles just didn’t mesh with what the public was really feeling.

"I guess people are happy with what we are doing. I saw maybe four or five changes overall on council whether it was council, the mayor or the wards. We’ll see what happens at the end of the night."

Ruberto, upset with predictions in this week’s Thunder Bay Source that suggested he might not get re-elected, refused to speak with

Ruberto, with 13,396 votes edged out former at-large councillor Lawrence Timko finished sixth with 12,650.

Norm Staal was seventh at 11,088. Gerald Graham, Beatrice Metzler and former Current River councillor Dick Waddington rounded out the top 10.

With files from Jamie Smith, Jeff Labine and Jodi Lundmark

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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