11/03/2013 08:01 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST

Scandal-plagued Laval sets hopeful sights on new mayor

For the first time since 1989, Laval residents headed to the polls today did not see Gilles Vaillancourt’s name among the candidates running for the city’s mayor.

Nearly one year after Vaillancourt's fall in the wake of corruption allegations and criminal charges, the race in Laval, Quebec’s third largest municipality, was nonetheless rife with drama and ghosts of the past.

Early into the campaign, Claire Le Bel, the only mayoral candidate from Vaillancourt’s former party, went public with a recording she said captured the former mayor offering to finance her electoral campaign.

Le Bel said she was fearful after her campaign manager was allegedly attacked while driving and had sought police protection. That campaign manager resigned shortly after the incident and is now facing a mischief charge for allegedly having lied to a police officer.

Guy Landry, leader of the Nouveau Parti des Lavallois, was plagued by financial problems and allegations during his own race for mayor. 

Before the campaign had even officially started, 10 of his candidates left the party after it was made public that Landry owed the province $40,000 for over payment on social assistance he had received.

Former police officer Marc Demers, another high-profile candidate, came under fire for his eligibility to even run for mayor when it was disclosed that he didn’t live in Laval for six months last year.

While Demers and former Liberal MNA and businessman Jean-Claude Gobé were considered by some to be the front runners in the mayor’s race, few public polls were released during the campaign.

But, whoever emerges as the winner tonight will have the formidable task of repairing the city’s reputation.

The province placed the city under third-party trusteeship in June after allegations emerged at the Charbonneau commission describing a deep culture of corruption.

Not long after, interim mayor Alexandre Duplessis resigned in the wake of a scandal allegedly involving prostitutes and extortion.

Following Vaillancourt’s resignation in late 2012, the remaining members of his Parti PRO des Lavallois, which held every seat on the city’s council, voted to dissolve the party.

In total, only 14 members of the 21 person city council sought re-election.