St. Marys Journal Argus
By a margin of almost 1,300 votes (unofficial results), Al Strathdee cut short Steve Grose’s wish of filling out what he described as an eight-year plan to shore up the financial well-being of the Town of St. Marys. Strathdee, putting forth the argument that the town’s infrastructure has suffered needlessly during the four years of Grose’s mayoralty, was elected Mayor on Monday, Oct. 28.
The vote count for first-time political hopeful Strathdee was 2,031, to Grose’s 757. It was a reversal of fortunes for Grose, who as a first-time candidate took out multi-term Mayor Jamie Hahn in 2010 by a margin that was large, but not as large as this week’s.
“I met a lot of people, and we tried a lot of different things,” Strathdee said of his campaign, when approached by reporters after several rounds of congratulatory hugs and handshakes. He said he believes his campaign’s message was consistent and clear, and that it didn’t waver. “And I was able to earn the trust of a lot of great people.”
Grose declined to comment to the Journal Argus about the outcome. With about 200 people gathered to see the results on a screen in the upstairs End Zone room at the Pyramid Centre, the defeated mayor left abruptly after the numbers were shown.
He was, however, the only incumbent candidate on Monday’s ballot who was not returned to office. All five incumbent councillors (one of the six St. Marys councillors, Stephen McCotter, did not seek re-election) were among the top six vote-getters. Only Jim Craigmile, with a very respectable 1,644 votes — putting him second only to Bill Osborne’s 1,704 — was able to earn a spot around the table.
“St. Marys has chosen a good Council,” said newly re-elected incumbent Carey Pope.
Osborne, meanwhile, conceded he “was worried . . . I couldn’t read this (election). People seemed to be calling for change.” But it turned out, he surmised, that change only came in the form of the mayor. As for the rest of Council, “I guess the bottom line is, people were satisfied.”
The newly re-elected incumbent councillors all expressed eagerness to begin working with Strathdee. “I know Al well, and I can definitely see we have some challenges and opportunities that I look forward to working through,” Don Van Galen said. Pope added, “(Strathdee) wants what’s best for St. Marys, and so do we.”
Judging from his comments to reporters, don’t be surprised to see the Water Street Bridge return to Council’s agenda quite soon.
“Let’s have an open meeting and figure out how we’re going to make that happen,” Strathdee said, when asked about his immediate plans. He says he will meet with Town staff as soon as possible to figure out next steps. “Let’s get the facts on the table, let’s get the truth, let’s get the engineering firm in here, and let’s figure it out.”
Strathdee expressed gratitude for Grose’s service, saying he “put in a lot of time and effort into working to make St. Marys a better place.” He also thanked his family. “This has been very hard on my family at times, but they have been very supportive.”
His campaign team, of course, was given credit . . . And then there were the running shoes — which have become an almost iconic feature of the Strathdee campaign. He admits one pair completely wore out over the past six weeks; on campaign night, he was wearing an almost new pair.
“Workboots is my usual attire,” he smiled. But that might not be entirely acceptable in Council Chambers, nor comfortable. So the running shoes, most likely, will stay.