Chopp unseats Luke

Incumbents swept away in change election

Kristal Chopp, 37, of Port Dover, is the new mayor of Norfolk County. Chopp unseated incumbent Charlie Luke in Monday's municipal election. With Chopp is her partner Dimitris Spiliadis.

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Norfolk voters headed to the polls Monday with an appetite for change.

That appetite extended into the mayor’s office and worked its way down through the ranks of Simcoe Coun. Peter Black, Simcoe Coun. Doug Brunton and Port Dover Coun. John Wells.

Mayor Charlie Luke experienced his first defeat in municipal politics since he was first elected to the former Town of Simcoe council in 1980 as a brash upstart. Unseating him by an unofficial count of 10,355 votes to 8,071 was municipal newcomer Kristal Chopp, 37, of Port Dover.

As such, Chopp becomes the fourth mayor in the 18-year history of the new Norfolk and the second woman to serve in this role from Port Dover. The first was Norfolk’s inaugural mayor Rita Kalmbach.

In a brief interview Monday night at the Simcoe Recreation Centre, Chopp said this election went about as well as she could have hoped.

“I’m still overwhelmed,” she said. “I’m thrilled. I want Norfolk to be open for business. There is an opportunity to do some really amazing things.”

Chopp is a native of Binbrook. She bought a home in Port Dover a few years ago and wanted to open a brewery but says she was frustrated by Norfolk’s planning regulations. Cutting red tape was a major theme of her campaign.

Chopp obtained her commercial pilot’s licence when she was 18. She flies wide-bodied jets around the world on behalf of Air Canada.

Now that she’s secured the main office at Governor Simcoe Square, Chopp has some homework to do.

“I have a month and a half to prepare,” she said. “I’m going to have a little downtime to prepare for December.”

Monday’s result was more than a setback for Luke. The verdict represents an abrupt end to a long political career that knew nothing but success until Monday night.  Luke took the verdict in stride and said it is time to move on.

“It’s over,” Luke said. “I’m finished. There’s been quite a change over. Obviously, people have made a decision to go in another direction.

“I accept that and I respect that. I’ve had a good run for 38 years, four of those as mayor. It’s time for a vacation with my wife (Diane) and then I’ll decide what to do. I’m sure some doors will open for me. I’ve done a good job and I wish the new council the best. I’m not a sad person. Now it’s my turn to pass things over.”

Russell Colebrook of Simcoe – the third mayoral candidate — was hoping to collect 1,000 votes Monday but ended up with an unofficial total of 573. Even so, Colebrook said it was a good ride and well worth the cost of admission.

“The voters have spoken,” he said. “I was hoping a 1,000 people would vote for me so that council would know there is thousand people out there paying attention to what they’re doing.

“The ordinary people will know that there is an advocate out there for them. I want to thank them for the support they gave me.”

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

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