Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi celebrates his re-election as mayor at his campaign party in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Oct. 21, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh The Canadian Press
Calgary voters have re-elected Naheed Nenshi as mayor and returned most of the incumbents to city council.
An underdog in the last election three years ago, Nenshi began this campaign as a seasoned veteran praised for his handling of the city’s flood crisis in June.
Nenshi spoke to cheering supporters from his headquarters at the Metropolitan Conference Centre just before 11 p.m. MT Monday night. At the time, he had earned 74 per cent of the 143,263 votes counted.
"To the newly-elected city council I say congratulations, but we've got a lot of work to do," he said.
"We'll continue to build even better government. My 20,000 colleagues proved something this summer — they proved how lucky we are to live in a city where public service works."
Results not yet official
CBC News is declaring the following incumbents as winners: Jim Stevenson (Ward 3), Ray Jones (Ward 5), Richard Pootmans (Ward 6), Druh Farrell (Ward 7), Gian-Carlo Carra (Ward 9), Andre Chabot (Ward 10), Brian Pincott (Ward 11), Shane Keating (Ward 12), Diane Colley-Urquhart (Ward 13) and Peter Demong (Ward 14).
Council will have some new faces. In Ward 4, incumbent Gael MacLeod lost her seat to Calgary police officer Sean Chu. In Ward 8, Evan Woolley defeated incumbent John Mar. Also joining council is Joe Magliocca, who will replace Gord Lowe in Ward 2. Lowe did not seek re-election. The battle to replace the retired Dale Hodges in Ward 1 is very close. Candidates Chris Harper trails Ward Sutherland by just 85 votes according to the city's unofficial results.
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Nenshi campaigns on ending ‘sprawl subsidy’
Nenshi campaigned on promises to synchronize traffic lights, push for more legalized secondary suites and end what he calls the “sprawl subsidy.” He argued that every house built in a new neighbourhood costs Calgary taxpayers $4,800 — or a total of $33 million a year, the same as a three per cent increase in property taxes.
Eight people challenged Nenshi’s mayoral run, including former MLA and alderman Jon Lord, as well as a preacher and a marijuana advocate.
On Monday night, Lord said from his headquarters that despite a small budget compared with Nenshi’s campaign, he was successful at getting out his message of lower taxes and better accountability.
“I felt I could not sit idly by and watch as city hall was given a blank cheque to continue more of this,” Lord said. “I think the important issues are out on the table now.”
New faces on school boards
Calgary voters also picked new trustees for the public and Catholic school boards.
Four incumbents were re-elected as Calgary Board of Education trustees: Joy Bowen-Eyre, Lynn Ferguson, Pamela King and Sheila Taylor.
Trina Hurdman unseated longtime trustee George Lane in wards 6 and 7. Judy Hehr is the new trustee in wards 8 and 9, while Amber Stewart will represent wards 12 and 14.
The new faces on the Catholic school board are Cheryl Low (wards 9 and 10 plus Chestermere) and Peter Teppler (wards 6 and 8). All incumbents were either elected or acclaimed, including Serafino Scarpino, Margaret Belcourt, Cathie Williams, Linda Wellman and Mary Martin.
New identification rules for voters
It's not expected turnout will be as high this year as it was for the last election in 2010, in which 355,083 people cast a vote or 53.24 per cent.
For the first time, voters need to present identification to be allowed to vote — and that presented a problem for some.
Editha Bell didn't have any identification with the Calgary address she has lived at for a year. Her husband said all the bills are in his name and they have not updated their driver's licences.
"I feel embarrassed in a sense because here we are," said Editha, who was unable to cast her ballot Monday. "We criticize other countries like the Philippines or Ukraine or Russia where people can't exercise their vote."
After this election, members of city council will be called councillors, not aldermen. Because of a change in provincial law, the winning candidates will serve a four-year term, a year longer than the previous term.
The election in Calgary is expected to cost about $2.5 million.
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