Glued to his phone, Greg Dionne remained buzzing with positivity on Thursday morning, hours after being elected mayor of Prince Albert.
“I’m just overwhelmed by the phone calls, the emails and letters of congratulations,” he said.
Congratulations come from local supporters, as well as from Premier Brad Wall, who Dionne said gave him a “very touching” phone call.
“I’m quite sure he phoned all the mayors, but I was still pleased,” Dionne said, adding that they also talked briefly about a new hospital and second bridge.
After taking the lead with 51 per cent of the vote, and 1,076 votes ahead of incumbent Jim Scarrow, Dionne said that the election panned out as expected.
“Even though lots of people doubted it, we estimated — my team — that we’d win by 1,000 to 1,500 points,” Dionne said.
“The key was the higher I tracked in the poll the harder I worked, because you can’t go by polls.”
Though he doesn’t officially claim the mayor’s seat until Nov. 13, Dionne recognizes that he has plenty of preparatory work to.
He plans on phoning all of the newly elected councillors to both congratulate them and take their insight and concerns about whatever they feel like bringing up.
“We’ll start off right with a new foot, and I think it’ll be totally different,” Dionne said. “It’ll be a harmonized council.”
Once the new council is sworn in, Dionne has a long list of items to work their way through council chambers, as outlined in his campaign.
Infrastructure upgrades, improvement to communications, reforming the police commission, establishing a water and utility commission and various other items fill out his mandate.
He also plans to wade past negative campaigning over the past few months to look at the issues that Scarrow and fellow mayoral candidate Dean Link brought up that attracted the public’s attention.
I’m just overwhelmed by the phone calls, the emails and letters of congratulations. - Newly elected mayor, Greg Dionne
“I have lots on my list, but the first thing I think we have to do is tackle committees, because they have to be functioning,” Dionne said, noting that the police commission will be part of this.
When it comes to city committees and councillors’ appointments therein, the process will be a lot more open than in the past, he said.
“The first thing we’re going to debate is whether we should be on that committee or have that committee, and if we do, what is going to be its structure?
“When we look at those committees, we’re going to look at their skills and what they’ll bring to those committees, because that’s what’s important.”
In addition to the items he campaigned on, Dionne and the rest of council will face inherited problems of the past, including outstanding legal issues with Domtar, the ex-owner of the Prince Albert Pulp Mill, and issues with the water treatment plant.
“I want people to know up-front (that) I have to deal with those issues,” Dionne said.
Looking at the overall picture, Dionne said that he’s more optimistic than anything else, and is anxious to see council sworn in on Nov. 13.
“Nine years on council, I’m not worried about how it’s going to run, but I’ll just restructure it so it becomes a ‘we’ government instead of an ‘I.’
“I would just really like to thank the citizens of P.A. for giving me their confidence and voting me into the mayor’s office.”