Kennedy Ste­wart named mayor of Van­cou­ver

Asian Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

Van­cou­ver: For­mer New Demo­crat MP Kennedy Ste­wart has won a neck-and-neck may­oral race to lead Van­cou­ver, as lo­cal gov­ern­ment saw shake­ups across the re­gion.

Sup­port­ers chanted, “Kennedy, Kennedy,” and broke out in dance as re­sults came in early Sun­day morn­ing, herald­ing Ste­wart in as the first In­de­pen­dent mayor of Van­cou­ver in more than 30 years.

He scraped ahead of Non-par­ti­san As­so­ci­a­tion can­di­date Ken Sim with 984 votes.

“They voted for a plan that is bold but achiev­able,” Ste­wart told the crowd, adding he will be­gin im­me­di­ately to de­liver on cam­paign prom­ises like in­creas­ing the hous­ing sup­ply and cre­at­ing a Down­town East­side task force with a fo­cus on stem­ming the opi­oid cri­sis.

Sim said he would not con­cede early Sun­day morn­ing.

“As you know this has been a very un­prece­dented elec­tion. We’ve con­sulted with our ad­vis­ers and our team, they men­tion there are still bal­lots to be counted. Bar­ring that, let’s speak to the re­sults we have tonight,” he said, con­grat­u­lat­ing Ste­wart. Ste­wart’s elec­tion ends Vi­sion Van­cou­ver’s 10 year rule un­der out­go­ing mayor Gre­gor Robert­son, who didn’t seek re-elec­tion and leaves the city with a hous­ing cri­sis that be­came the fo­cus of the cam­paign. It was one of sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant turnovers in Metro Van­cou­ver that also saw a come­back for for­mer mayor Doug Mccal­lum in Sur­rey and for­mer fire­fighter Mike Hur­ley de­feat five-term may­oral in­sti­tu­tion Derek Corrigan in Burn­aby. In Nanaimo, New Demo­crat leg­is­la­tor Leonard Krog’s win put the mi­nor­ity pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s hold on power into ques­tion as his de­par­ture will trig­ger a by­elec­tion. It won’t be enough to tip the bal­ance of power to the Lib­er­als’ favour against an NDP mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment that’s propped up by the Greens, but it would bring it to the brink.

The Lib­er­als have 42 seats in the house, the New Democrats 41, in­clud­ing Krog, the Greens have three seats and there is one In­de­pen­dent. Vic­to­ria Mayor Lisa Helps won a sec­ond term de­spite fac­ing nine chal­lengers and some con­tro­ver­sies dur­ing the cam­paign, in­clud­ing her gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­move a sculp­ture of John A. Mac­don­ald from the en­trance to city hall.

The cam­paign in Van­cou­ver was marked by a crowded race of new can­di­dates and par­ties with con­verg­ing plat­forms fo­cused on in­creas­ing hous­ing sup­ply in the face of the city’s af­ford­abil­ity cri­sis. Ste­wart will lead 10 other coun­cil­lors di­vided across party lines, in­clud­ing five NPA coun­cil­lors and five from pro­gres­sive par­ties.

“I’ve been talk­ing with them all the way through, all the way through this race and I think there are ideas we share in com­mon and we’re just go­ing to have to go pol­icy by pol­icy and make sure we’re not alien­at­ing any­one. I’m con­fi­dent we can do it,” Ste­wart told re­porters fol­low­ing his vic­tory speech.

Seven women also make up the ma­jor­ity.

The city is some­what un­usual in Canada be­cause it op­er­ates un­der a party sys­tem.

Since 2008, cen­tre-left Vi­sion Van­cou­ver has dom­i­nated coun­cil un­der Robert­son but the party didn’t run a may­oral can­di­date this elec­tion.

The cen­tre-right NPA had a long-run­ning grip on power be­fore that, with some no­table ex­cep­tions, in­clud­ing 2002 when the Coali­tion of Pro­gres­sive Elec­tors won the mayor’s of­fice and eight of 10 coun­cil seats. Van­cou­ver’s last in­de­pen­dent mayor was Mike Har­court, who served from 1980 to 1986, be­fore go­ing on to be­come premier.

Vot­ers in some cities re­ported longer waits than they’d ex­pe­ri­enced in pre­vi­ous elec­tions. In Van­cou­ver, the bal­lot was al­most 13 cen­time­tres longer than usual be­cause of the 158 can­di­dates on the list, the city said in a tweet. That meant it took about 22 sec­onds to cast each bal­lot through an elec­tronic reader, and longer if the bal­lot was re­jected.

“Seems like we’re stuck in the 1990s for how slow it reads it,” Paul Schel­len­berg said after vot­ing at St. An­drew’s-wes­ley United Church in down­town Van­cou­ver.

He said col­lect­ing and fill­ing out the bal­lot was “very fast,” but a long line formed as vot­ers waited for their bal­lots to be elec­tron­i­cally pro­cessed.

Brian Thorn said the ran­dom­ized or­der of the can­di­dates made it harder to find the ones he’d cho­sen to vote for, which also added to the time de­lay. The City of Burn­aby added an ex­tra vot­ing tab­u­la­tor to its Gil­more sta­tion Satur­day af­ter­noon to ease the line, while the City of Vic­to­ria thanked vot­ers for their pa­tience in a tweet.

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