Many political analysts weren’t expecting any major surprises in Edmonton’s 2017 municipal election but two-term councillor Dave Loken lost to political upstart Jon Dziadyk in a stunning upset in Ward 3 on Monday night.
Unofficial results showed that with 18 of 19 polls reporting, Dziadyk had captured 4,117 votes while Loken had 3,596.
“I entered this race thinking I could win,” councillor-elect Jon Dziadyk said. “I’ll admit I was a bit naive, I didn’t know how much would be spent by my opponents and I came in this with a very modest budget, only a couple of thousand dollars I spent. I don’t have any institutional support from corporations or unions, just some good people, good family.”
Watch below: In an extremely tight race, newcomer Jon Dziadyk defeated incumbent Edmonton councillor Dave Loken in Ward 3 in Monday night’s election. Gord Steinke speaks with Dziadyk to hear more about his platform.
“Unbelievable, this is really the surprise of the night,” said MacEwan University political scientist Chaldeans Mensah.
“Typically, a challenger must have some deep community roots. And it looks like this guy has some military background, so he captured those military votes in that area. Apparently he is also very connected, the vision he that has of the community really resonated very well with the voters.”
WATCH: Political scientist Chaldeans Mensah joined Shaye Ganam to break down the results of the Edmonton election.
Dziadyk, a reservist with the navy who is also an urban planner and writer, ran with the motto “Ward 3 First, North Side Second, The Rest of Edmonton Third” and wasn’t worried about being a challenger.
“The fact that the incumbent is the incumbent and everyone says, ‘it’s hard to beat the incumbent,’ I wasn’t worried about that because I was looking at the specific issues of Ward 3,” Dziadyk explained. “Early on when I started door knocking and I heard what people were saying, I started looking at solutions for that.”
While Dziadyk has experience with community planning, the move to city council will be a learning curve.
“I’m not going to pretend that I’m a subject matter expert on council matters, there’s a lot of administrative stuff, procedural stuff that I need to get up to speed with,” Dziadyk said.
“While I might have good ideas – or at least, I have ideas – they have yet to be vetted in the court of public opinion. I’m ready to hit the ground running.”
WATCH: Kim Krushell talks about the results of the 2017 Edmonton election and what the four rookies will face.
Kim Krushell was a city councillor for many years and knows what it takes to get the job done. While Dziadyk’s focus may be on serving his ward and side of the city, she cautioned he needs to make friends for that to happen.
“I think it’s challenging because how it works on council is, if you don’t have seven votes you’re not getting anything done,” Krushell said.
“So I think he’s really going to have to work on saying, ‘Listen, I care about the north’ and bring forward the issues of the north, but I think at the same time he’s really going to have to build relationships with other councillors in order to get anything done.”
Krushell pointed out money is going to be spent in the north side of the city in coming years, as the Yellowhead Trail upgrades are coming. “For some reason that wasn’t translating to the voters in that area, and Dave Loken ended up not winning.”
In June, Loken called for a report outlining what’s needed to construct a bridge connecting Blatchford to the rest of north Edmonton over the Yellowhead Trail and CN yards to help save his constituents time getting to more central parts of the city.
First elected to city council in 2010, Loken spent time serving on a number of committees. Before the 2017 election campaign, he sat on the Urban Planning Committee and the Audit Committee. He was also co-chair of the Traffic Safety Council Initiative
On his campaign website, Loken professed himself an advocate for building Edmonton on “the principles of smart urban design, expansion of the current transit system, and investing in neighbourhoods to insure that citizens at all stages of life have quality infrastructure and a safe community to live in.”
In August, a fellow Ward 3 candidate alleged he was assaulted by Loken at a youth event in Castle Downs Park. Loken denied the allegations and police ended their investigation without laying any charges.
While police closed their case, Mensah said news of the alleged incident likely hurt his campaign.