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."

  • Listen below to what Nenshi had to say the morning after the election on the Calgary Eyeopener.

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.

He said he will fight for better fiscal management and come up with solutions to the ward’s transportation challenges.

In Ward 8, community organizer 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 still very close. Candidate Chris Harper trails Ward Sutherland by just 85 votes, according to the city's unofficial results. There will be a recount of votes in the riding.

Pootmans recaptured Ward 6 with just 51 per cent of the vote, holding off his main rival Joe Connelly, who used to represent the ward.

Connelly said a late start and difficulty pinpointing supporters might have cost him his chance of getting his old job back.

"You know, it's a challenge identifying the vote and getting it out, so if we're going to do something different next time, it would be to make sure that we identify the vote in a greater number beforehand," he said.

In Ward 7, Farrell beat her nearest rival, Kevin Taylor, by 2,322 votes in a race that was anticipated to be close.

She said her team's redoubled effort paid off and her message appealed to people in the ward.

"They chose optimism, they chose a sustainable city, they chose smart growth — the things that I've been working on for 12 years," she said.

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

Voter turnout was 39.43 per cent, not as high as it was for the last election. In 2010, 355,083 people cast a ballot 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.

Clarifications

  • The City of Calgary said Wednesday the voter turnout in this election was actually 39.43 per cent, not 38.43 per cent as previously reported.
    Oct 23, 2013 4:21 PM ET