County warden Liz Danielsen was elected mayor of Algonquin Highlands Oct. 24, while incumbent mayor Dave Burton has retained his seat in Highlands East.

In a close race likely fueled by shoreline preservation bylaw backlash, Danielsen narrowly defeated Mike Lang 1,204 votes to 1,064 to take on council’s top job. After having been deputy mayor for three terms, she replaces long-time council head Carol Moffatt, who opted not to run this time around.

Meanwhile, Highlands East returned Burton to the mayor’s chair for a fifth term. He beat contender Cheryl Ellis 1,117 votes to 801. It’s the second time Burton has staved off Ellis for mayor.

Danielsen told The Highlander on election night, “Obviously it was a tight race. I expected it would be close. I didn’t know that it would be quite that close.”

She added, “I really truly am grateful and so happy to be able to carry on. I’m so grateful to the people that helped me, and the people who supported me and voted for me.”

Danielsen said she is looking forward to working with the new council.

The only other new face is that of Sabrina Richards, who topped the polls in ward 2 with 930 votes. Also re-elected was Lisa Barry (798). Julia Shortreed returns in ward 1 and Jennifer Dailloux in ward 3.

“I think it’ll be a good, dynamic group. It’s always good to have a new voice and some new energy,” the mayor-elect said.

Continuity on County council

Danielsen added returning to the County table with Burton is important for continuity as Moffatt, Dysart et al mayor Andrea Roberts and deputy mayor Pat Kennedy and Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin have all left municipal government. Joining the County will be Minden Hills mayor Bob Carter (acclaimed), deputy mayor Lisa Schell (acclaimed), Dysart et al mayor Murray Fearrey (acclaimed) and deputy mayor Walt McKechnie (acclaimed). Cec Ryall will join the County table as well. Algonquin Highlands has yet to select its deputy mayor.

Burton said on election night, he hadn’t scrutinized the numbers behind his 300-vote victory but “a win is a win is a win.”

If anything, he said he was disappointed with the lack of voter turnout. He said having three members of council acclaimed (Cam McKenzie, Ryall and Ruth Strong) took some of the interest out of the election.

Nonetheless, he said it was gratifying to get the voters’ mandate once again.

“I’m very humbled, actually.”

The new blood on this council comes in the form of Angela Lewis, elected to ward 2. She beat Janice Dahms 449 votes to 198. Burton said he is looking forward to working with Lewis and the rest of council.