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Zurowski on top with decided voters, poll shows

A new Prince George mayoral poll puts candidate Don Zurowski 10 points ahead of Lyn Hall among decided voters.
Mayoralty candidate Don Zurowski speaks at the opening of his campaign office on Oct. 11.

A new Prince George mayoral poll puts candidate Don Zurowski 10 points ahead of Lyn Hall among decided voters.

The Prince George Citizen-CKPG News poll, conducted by Ontario-based Oraclepoll, surveyed 350 Prince George residents of voting age between Oct. 15 and Oct. 20. It has a 5.2 per cent margin of error, 19 times out of 20.

"I take nothing for granted," said Zurowski, who came out with a clear victory of 55 per cent among decided voters to Hall's 45 per cent. "A lot can happen. Three weeks in politics is a lifetime."

Hall said the poll's most telling numbers were that just over half of the survey's 350 respondents - 178 people - were undecided.

"I think the undecided are going to play a huge role," said Hall, adding he's not worried by the numbers and sees 45 per cent as a strong voting base. "The debates are coming up, this will allow the voters to become more informed about the two mayoral candidates and our difference in our styles of leadership."

Hall did better with younger voters and women, winning 59 and 57 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, Zurowski charmed 63 per cent of voters age 65-plus and and got the nod from men, with 62 per cent of their support.

Zurowski says there is risk with undecided voters, but he sees that number as a good sign with plenty of time before the Nov. 15 election.

"Frankly it's encouraging. That can be an indication that people are going to make the effort to get informed. That's always my wish, that we have an informed electorate," said Zurowski, adding his office has also found citizens are mulling over their options.

"We're finding that people are just beginning to turn their minds to the municipal election."

While he's happy he's on top for now, Zurowski says he still has a lot of work to do.

"It's very fresh in my mind how the polls looked going into the provincial election and what the actual outcome was," he said, refering the NDP loss to Christy Clark's Liberals despite projections of an NDP victory.

With a low 28 per cent voter turnout in Prince George's last municipal election, Hall thinks participation in recent debates should signal an upsurge in this year's voting numbers.

"I think that's indicative of the interest in the community," Hall said. "Whenever you see that kind of interest for a mayoral election, you are going to see a large number of undecided."

The poll also asked respondents an open-ended question about what they considered to be the most important issue facing Prince George.

While 29 per cent said they didn't know, infrastructure was by far the biggest concern with 16 per cent giving that answer. Winter maintenance and snow removal garnered nine per cent response and the city budget, including deficit and spending, was mentioned by seven per cent. Taxes and roads each wrangled responses from five per cent surveyed.

Both candidates said the issues were in line with what they've heard from residents

"That's exactly what I'm hearing; that's influenced what my platform is," Zurowski said.

Hall said these issues have come up time and again during his last three years on council.

"We've heard loud and clear about infrastructure, not only underground infrastructure, but also our about our infrastructure with buildings and equipment."

The next public debate between the two mayoral candidates is Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Canfor Theatre at UNBC, sponsored by The Citizen, CKPG and the Prince George Chamber of Commerce.