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Oakville Mayor Ann Mulvale's narrow victory was confirmed yesterday after a recount, which was accepted by runner-up Rob Burton.

The result ends a legal battle that started shortly after election night.

"I believe [Ms.]Mulvale is mayor of Oakville," Mr. Burton said when he was asked about the result of the recount.

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"We have obtained as much certainty as the Ontario Municipal Election Act permits. There will be no appeal. I believe it is time to move on and focus on safeguarding and raising the quality of life in Oakville, which continues to face the problem of not keeping up with uncontrolled growth," a statement issued by Mr. Burton said.

Ms. Mulvale is out of Ontario until March 17, but her lawyer, John Callaghan of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, who represented her at the recount, said "the mayor is absolutely delighted with the result."

The results of the three-day recount, announced by Oakville town clerk Cathie Best yesterday, gave Ms. Mulvale a 28-vote lead, nearly double the majority of 15 votes by which she originally led.

The recount was the product of an election-night shocker for the five-time Oakville mayor, who had been expected to cruise to an easy sixth victory, but Mr. Burton, a wealthy former journalist turned environmental activist, almost defeated her in an election that saw four environmentalists elected to council by voters who were uneasy about the town's development plans.

The official count after the election gave Ms. Mulvale 15,731 votes to Mr. Burton's 15,716. The recount gave Ms. Mulvale 15,758 to Mr. Burton's 15,730.

After the election, Mr. Burton challenged the results in court, claiming there were irregularities in the result, but he and the town settled out of court by agreeing to the recount, which saw the ballots recounted by the electronic machines that were used to do the first count.

The 163 ballots that were not counted by the machines were examined by the clerk, and after 35 were rejected as being invalid, 128 were left in dispute between the mayor and the challenger. Of these, the clerk awarded 35 to Ms. Mulvale and 27 to Mr. Burton.

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Mr. Callaghan said that, by his count of the remaining 66 of the disputed votes, Ms. Mulvale would have won 43 and Mr. Burton 20, if the disputed ballots had gone to a judge for a final ruling.

Councillor Mike Lansdown said that, apart from the time that Oakville council took to deal with legal issues from Mr. Burton's challenge, it has been business as usual since the new council was sworn in.

"The mayor is the mayor until any recount would indicate otherwise. . . . If it had been Burton [who was mayor] it would have been Burton until such time as a recount had been counted," Mr. Lansdown said.

He added that the recount was necessary. "The public really wanted to know that the election had been properly carried out, and I think this confirmation provides some of that assurance."

Councillor Chris Stoate said the election result had created a distraction for the town. "Uncertainty is never a good thing. So I think everybody will be able to focus on the business of the town more. . . . It will be nice for all of us for this to be over."

Mr. Stoate said that the mayor will welcome the outcome. "Just from her point of view, it has to have been very difficult to deal with. It should give her the ownership of the job.

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"The effect will be psychological and positive for everyone."

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