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Lone defeated incumbent not letting election defeat get him down

Mark MacKinnon was the only sitting member voted out on Monday night
20181217 council mackinnon ts 6
Ward 6 councillor Mark MacKinnon. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday file photo

Two-term incumbent Mark MacKinnon is disappointed to have lost a Ward 6 seat on council during Monday’s municipal election, but he’s not letting it “get me down.”

MacKinnon finished third at the polls, with the top two finishers – fellow incumbent Dominique O’Rourke and political newcomer Ken Yee Chew – chosen to represent south end residents on council for the next four years.

“I certainly look back at the last eight years and think nothing but good things that we did in this city,” MacKinnon told GuelphToday on Tuesday morning. “I’m holding my head high moving forward.

“I’m turning 50 in two days and I’m looking forward to whatever the next chapter of my life may be.”

MacKinnon, who runs his own publishing business and is a licenced real estate broker, was first elected to council in 2014 and returned to office by voters in 2018.

“I have my hand in a number of different business ventures,” he said. “I have a lot of transferable skill sets, so I’m going to be exploring a couple other options as well and just seeing what the best path forward is.”

Asked about what he sees as his greatest contributions to the city while on council, MacKinnon was quick to point to the ongoing pilot affordable bus pass program, as well as his focus on asset management and the state of infrastructure.

“We’re going to get results on that in the coming months and I think it’s going to show we should probably keep that around,” he said of the bus pass program, which sees monthly passes sold for as little as $4 depending on the individual’s needs. 

And then there is the “never-ending advocacy” for creation of a South End Community Centre, which council approved with an $80 budget in 2020 but stalled earlier this year after construction bids came in way over budget – the lowest being more than $121 million.

In response to the over-budget bids – for the SECC and other efforts – city staff put the project on hold and city council gave staff them the ability to reprioritize capital projects through the end of next year within the existing approved funding envelope, which may include putting some on hold.

“I’m certainly hoping that Ken (Yee Chew) and Dominique (O’Rourke) will be able to pick up and run with it and get it opened by 2025,” said MacKinnon, referring to the previously planned SECC opening schedule.

At this point, MacKinnon hasn’t ruled out a return to politics.

“It’s certainly possible,” he said when asked if another run was in his future. “With my kids growing up, I’m going to be an empty nester in a couple of years and I’m going to have to reevaluate where to go. 

“I’m still very interested in politics, whether it’s federally, provincially or locally, but at the same time, who knows what’s going to happen moving forward.”

Several recent city councillors have shown it’s possible to step away from council – either by choice or courtesy of voters – and return later on. Councillors Cathy Downer and Christine Billings have each taken a term off, only to return triumphantly, as did Mike Salisbury after losing his Ward 4 seat in 2010.

If politics is in his future, MacKinnon acknowledges he needs to up his campaign game.

“The bar has been raised on what the municipal campaigning needs to be in order to be successful in a competitive ward,” he said, crediting the support teams for O’Rourke and Chew for getting their messages out to voters. “I almost felt like Ward 6 was a large city race, based on what was coming from (Chew’s) campaign.”


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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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