Jyoti Gondek elected as Calgary's mayor — and the first woman to hold that role
Former Ward 3 councillor will be the first woman in the role
Jyoti Gondek will be Calgary's next mayor — and the first female mayor in the city's history.
She has defeated 26 challengers to replace outgoing mayor Naheed Nenshi, who chose not to run for re-election after 11 years in the role.
- WATCH | Calgary mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek delivers her victory speech in the video at the top of this story.
And the mayor isn't the only part of Calgary's council that will look very different after Monday's election. Nine of 14 sitting councillors didn't run for re-election (with three seeking the mayor's seat), while some who did run again lost their seats.
Gondek, the former Ward 3 councillor, had 172,314 votes, according to the city's unofficial results as of 1:30 a.m. MT Tuesday, with 256 of 259 vote tabulator machines reporting.
That's about 45 per cent of the vote compared to about 30 per cent for her nearest rival, former Ward 11 councillor Jeromy Farkas, who had 114,482 votes — about 57,832 fewer than Gondek.
Former Ward 6 councillor Jeff Davison was sitting in third, with 49,622 votes.
Most of the other mayoral candidates received one per cent of the vote or less.
"This election is about all of you and the many things you believe we can accomplish together," Gondek said in a victory speech at 10 p.m. Monday, to a small gathering of supporters — a scaled-down celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It has been an absolute privilege to run in this election, and highlight all the things that are important to you. It will now be an honour to serve as your mayor."
WATCH | Reporters ask mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek what's first on her busy list:
Gondek thanked her husband, Todd, and their 16-year-old, Justice, for their support, and said her deceased father's unfinished community service was part of what propelled her into her political journey.
"My attention to seva [Sanskrit for selfless service] … that's all his legacy," the mayor-elect said. "So now we turn to that focus, to the mission of service — to build a stronger city."
Farkas, Davison concede
While Farkas said the result wasn't what he had hoped for, he congratulated Gondek on her win in a concession speech shortly after 9 p.m.
WATCH | Jeromy Farkas asks Calgarians to back city's new mayor and council:
"Now, I believe, is the time for us to come together as Calgarians to wish this new council well, to hope that they can seize the opportunities, they can meet the challenges that are in front of us as a community," Farkas said.
Davison, who threw his hat in the mayoral race after serving as Ward 6 councillor for four years, said he called his former colleague to congratulate her on her win.
"She's a class act, so I have a lot of high hopes for Calgary," he told supporters.
Gondek, 52, was first elected as councillor for Ward 3 in 2017.
She was born in the U.K. to parents who immigrated from Punjab, India. She grew up in Manitoba, and settled in Calgary in 1997. She has a PhD in urban sociology, and worked in consulting and led the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business before entering politics.
Gondek had centred her platform on resilience, saying she would aim to leverage the city's strengths into an inclusive economic recovery, address social disparities within communities and take action to address climate change.
Earlier in the day, Nenshi thanked Calgarians for the privilege of serving the city in a video posted to social media.
"While my political story is ending, the story of Calgary is still continuing," he said. "Thank you for giving me the honour of my life, the privilege of being able to work on these things with you for all of these years, and let's make this city even better."
Record advance vote turnout
Voting stations closed at 8 p.m., which is when Elections Calgary's high-speed electronic tabulators began to wirelessly transmit initial results through a secure, private connection to the servers at the city's Emergency Operations Centre. Mail-in and advance votes will be included in that count.
Those unofficial results were being released as they came in, after being verified by the returning officer and deputy city clerk. Official results will be published by noon on Oct. 22.
The city said total voter turnout would be reported in coming days. As of the most latest update, at 6 p.m. on Monday, voting stations across the city had reported a voter turnout of approximately 129,500. That's in addition to the advance vote turnout, which was more than 141,000 — the highest in city history.
2 incumbents lost seats
Just three of the five incumbent councillors appeared likely to hold on to their seats as of 1:30 a.m. Tuesday — Sean Chu in Ward 4, Gian-Carlo Carra in Ward 9 and Peter Demong in Ward 14 — while Joe Magliocca lost in Ward 2 as did Diane Colley-Urquhart in Ward 13.
Just days before the election, CBC broke the news that Chu had been disciplined for having inappropriate physical contact with a minor while he was a police officer in 1997. Chu was leading by just 52 votes as of Tuesday, and his opponent said he will ask for a recount.
Meanwhile, Magliocca struggled after being charged with breach of trust and fraud after a forensic audit found he improperly claimed expenses.
Here's who was leading in Calgary's 14 council races as of 1:30 a.m.:
- Ward 1: Sonya Sharp.
- Ward 2: Jennifer Wyness.
- Ward 3: Jasmine Mian.
- Ward 4: Sean Chu (incumbent).
- Ward 5: Raj Dhaliwal.
- Ward 6: Richard Pootmans.
- Ward 7: Terry Wong.
- Ward 8: Courtney Walcott.
- Ward 9: Gian-Carlo Carra (incumbent).
- Ward 10: Andre Chabot.
- Ward 11: Kourtney Branagan.
- Ward 12: Evan Spencer.
- Ward 13: Dan McLean.
- Ward 14: Peter Demong (incumbent).
Reaction from premier, chamber
As election results landed Monday not only in Calgary but for municipalities across Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney congratulated Gondek, Edmonton's new mayor-elect Amarjeet Sohi and others who were elected.
"I look forward to working with you all as we continue to move forward with Alberta's recovery," Kenney said in a post to social media.
Sohi, a former city councillor and Liberal member of Parliament, will become Edmonton's 36th mayor, replacing Don Iveson.
Calgary Chamber of Commerce president Deborah Yedlin said the chamber extends warm congratulations on behalf of the business community to the mayor-elect and councillors-elect.
"Calgary is no stranger to challenges and economic uncertainty," said Yedlin. "But we've seen time and again, that with bold leadership and thoughtful public policy, our city is capable of tackling complex challenges … [and] developing innovative solutions."
Voters also selected school board trustees, senate nominees, and weighed in on a municipal plebiscite and two provincial referendum questions. A full list of unofficial results can be found on the Elections Calgary website.
Calgarians vote in favour of fluoridation
Around 62 per cent of Calgarians voted in favour of reintroducing fluoridation to the city's water supply.
Calgary is releasing unofficial results on those provincial referendum results from voters in the city on Monday, but Elections Alberta has said it will release official results from municipalities across the province on Oct. 26.
Roughly 58 per cent of Calgarians voted in favour of removing the principle of making equalization payments from the constitution, and 51 per cent voted against the province adopting year-round daylight saving time.