In the final days leading up to Saturday's byelection, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin's decision to endorse a candidate came as a surprise to others vying for the spot on council.
While Grant O'Kane ended up coming in fifth place with 165 votes, compared with winner Bill Lawrence's 620, some were left wondering why the mayor decided to throw his support behind one candidate in particular.
"I found it rather suspect given the timing of it," said candidate David Chesney, the byelection's runner-up.
According to Chesney, he was told prior to the election that the mayor had requested council members to refrain from making public endorsements, as it may not be in the best interest of a cohesive council.
However, Baldwin said he did not direct council to do anything of the sort, saying it was up to each individual to do what they wanted during an election.
"It's not much different than last year's (municipal) election," he said. "There were a number of councilors that got on board with one of the mayoral candidates and that was their prerogative, you can't take that away from them. It's free speech."
As such, Baldwin said his endorsement wasn't exactly a public one, as he merely emailed close friends and acquaintances about who he was voting for after being asked by so many people.
"A lot of people were asking me who I was going to vote for," said Baldwin. "So I thought, I have an email list here so I thought I'd send one out saying who I'm going to vote for."
Part of that email read: "In my opinion, Grant O'Kane would be a welcome addition to Council."
On his campaign website, O'Kane said he received the news on Tuesday, Oct. 30 that he had received support from the White Rock Firefighter's Union, as well as the mayor himself.
In a post to his website, O'Kane wrote that his fellow candidates ended up making the mayor's endorsement more widespread than it would have otherwise been.
"I believe because other candidates made this public that it reached more people than they would have liked," he wrote. "All I can say is that I believe that my endorsement and whatever number of votes I do receive are truly earned and trusted from those who do support me."
Byelection winner Bill Lawrence said he was surprised about the endorsement, but understood where Baldwin was coming from.
"Grant is a great person," said Lawrence.
"I definitely respected his efforts during the election and I got to know him a little bit during the campaign and I have a lot of respect for him. Mayor Baldwin felt compelled to provide an endorsement prior to the election... but I didn't let it faze me when it came down to my overall campaign strategy."
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