When longtime city councillor Barry Ward tossed his hat in the mayor’s race this election, Ward 4 was guaranteed to have a new representative.
And Amy Courser is thrilled it will be her.
The 51-year-old Barrie native received 1,134 of the total votes cast during Monday’s municipal election. She says she assumed leading up to election night that it would be a tight race. Seeing the results — second-place finisher Tim Abel garnered 770 votes — left the first-time politician feeling blown away.
“I was confident I would come in first or a close second, but seeing the numbers I was quite surprised," Courser told BarrieToday.
Courser says she is self-taught in digital marketing and has owned small businesses and managed departments in non-profits and multi-national corporations.
She found herself fighting some nerves prior to the start of campaigning, but added she quickly found her footing.
“We have this assumption that people are like what we see online, so it was greatly distressing for me to knock on doors. But it turned out to be my absolute favourite thing to do,” she said. “People are kind and people are good.
"At the doors, I found I really connected with them and I loved hearing their stories and their concerns.”
As one of only eight women who ran in this election — and one of three who will be sworn in at council's inaugural meeting on Nov. 16 (meetings switch to Wednesday nights this term) — Courser says she's proud to bring a different perspective to the council table.
“I am happy to see there will be three women and I am glad to see our voices are going to be amplified," Courser said.
As a political newbie, Courser says her first plan of action is to get to know the lay of the land, as well as meeting city hall staff and creating working relationships with everyone.
“The first thing is to get my feet planted firmly on the ground. I am wanting to start neighbourhood advisory teams … and keep my ear to the ground and know absolutely everything that’s going on that I may be missing,” said Courser.
She also reminds her constituents that she will be there to represent every person in Ward 4, whether they voted for her or not.
Barry Ward, who finished second to Alex Nuttall in the mayoral race by a 777-vote margin, was first elected to Barrie city council in 2000 to represent Ward 4. He served as deputy mayor during the last term and was also acting mayor during Mayor Jeff Lehman’s leave of absence earlier this past summer when he ran unsuccessfully for MPP in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.