Susan Fennell's 14-year tenure as Brampton's mayor has ended with taxpayers sending a clear message they could not ignore her recent spending scandal.
Former MPP Linda Jeffrey was the winner, sweeping up half the votes on Monday while runner-up John Sanderson, a former city councillor, took 22 per cent. Ms. Fennell finished in third place with about 11,000 votes, or 12 per cent. In the 2010 election, it was Ms. Fennell who won with half the votes.
"The taxpayers bought into the efforts of the Toronto Star," Ms. Fennell said shortly before leaving her party in Brampton to congratulate Ms. Jeffrey at her victory celebrations about 20 minutes away. "I feel like I won tonight because I'm surrounded by family and friends and supporters."
Support for Ms. Fennell was declining in polls leading up to the election after a forensic audit in August prompted by media reports found she improperly billed taxpayers more than $100,000 for premium hotel rooms and high-priced flight passes among other expenses.
On Friday, she unveiled a separate report by arbitrator Janet Leiper that Ms. Fennell said "exonerated" her of breaking spending rules in most of the cases outlined in the Deloitte Canada audit. Ms. Leiper concluded Ms. Fennell should reimburse the city only $3,522.97.
The last-ditch effort to hold on to her seat was not enough.
Ms. Jeffrey, who resigned as minister of municipal affairs to run for mayor in March, told a cheering crowd of supporters, "Today the voters went to the polls and they sent a clear message that they wanted a better Brampton."
Ms. Jeffrey campaigned for all councillors' expenses to be made public, promised to improve transit and attract business to Brampton. She vowed to bring transparency and openness to city hall with the help of new and returning councillors.
"People in our community … told me they needed somebody who could clear the air and lift the cloud of controversy that clung to our city," she said. "With your help, we've turned a new page. It is a future filled with hope and optimism. It is a future that is not weighed down by the past."
Several familiar faces will return to council, including Grant Gibson, Elaine Moore, John Sprovieri and Fennell loyalist Gael Miles.
Vicky Dhillon – the only South Asian councillor in a city that is 36 per cent ethnically East Indian, Punjabi or Pakistani, according to the 2011 National Household Survey – lost his seat to another Sikh, Gurpreet Dhillon. The latter Mr. Dhillon was the NDP candidate to replace Ms. Jeffrey at Queen's Park.
Other newcomers to council include Michael Palleschi, who took the spot of his father, Paul Palleschi, who did not run for re-election. The younger Mr. Palleschi beat incumbent councillor John Hutton, who was looking to represent Wards 2 and 6 as a regional councillor instead of a city councillor.
Go here for results in the Brampton election.