An otherwise insignificant combination of digits, but on the evening of October 25th 2010, for Chris Friel, it was the magic number.
It was the exact number of votes that won him the mayoralty for the city of Brantford, more than doubling his nearest contender, former city councillor John Sless.
“I feel elated,” Friel said after giving his victory speech at the John Peel Restaurant, thanking friends, family and his campaign team. “I can’t tell you how great it feels to be in this position again.”
Friel was Brantford’s mayor from 1994 until 2003 when he was defeated by Mike Hancock by a meagre but devstating 15 votes. Then again in a 2006 bid for the city’s highest office, Friel was defeated once again by Hancock by less than 200 votes.
When Hancock announced his retirement earlier this year, it opened the door for Friel and eight other candidates, including former city councillors James Calnan and Mike Quattrociocchi, along with Dianne Austin, Richard Casey, Winston Ferguson and John Turmel. Also in the race: John Sless, a longtime member of city council, and Mark Littell, also a city councillor.
Friel’s campaign focused on the issues and the ideals that he felt all citizens of Brantford wanted.
“We just went after all the family values,” says Stephen Wdowczyk, Friel’s campaign manager. “We went after everything that we felt Brantford really wanted to have and it just came right back to us and we got it.”
Now in the top seat at city hall, Friel plans to get the community working together to face its many challenges.
“We’re going to get everybody involved and we’re going to start pulling it all together,” he says. “We have challenges that we know we have, and that we have to deal with now and one of them is economic development… Again, everything is going to happen by bringing in people who understand; it’s not just going to be the eleven people on council anymore, it’s going to be everybody who’s involved in the process, that’s what’s going to make the difference.”
A clear message from him and his campaign is the planned transformation of this city, turning Brantford into what Friel calls “a 21st-century city.”
“We’re going to make this an exceptional living experience, everybody in this room is going to get involved in some way or other.” Friel said in his victory speech, sharing his vision for the next four years.
“In a very short period of time, people are going to be coming here and they are going to be saying, ‘what’s going on in Brantford? What’s happening here?’ And they are going to want to be us.”