October 17, 2017 3:48 pm

Iveson embraces diversity, slams division in speech day after Edmonton election

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton elected another woman to city council and the city's first Metis councillor on Monday night. Mayor-elect Don Iveson said the face of council is beginning to better reflect the diversity of the city.

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Mayor-elect Don Iveson sighed and leaned over the podium with a laugh Tuesday morning after Monday night’s win.

READ MORE: Don Iveson crushes competition to be re-elected mayor in Edmonton election 

He said he got a few hours of sleep, after hitting the hay sometime after 1:30 a.m. and waking up at 5:45 a.m.

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“I was fielding a number of calls, chatting with councillors, the new councillors, some of the returning councillors, chatting with some folks in the region, chatting with some of the other mayors around the country. Mayor Nenshi and I were trading bitmojis late into the night,” Iveson said.

“My kids wouldn’t go to sleep. They were pretty jazzed. We had a lot to celebrate.”

Iveson said his first order of business is to help bring in the new councillors and meet with the whole council.

“The most important priority I have this week is to onboard the new councillors and reconnect with the existing councillors and for us to gather and hear from each other about what we heard from citizens in this election.”

Watch below: Monday was a historic night in Edmonton as the residents of Ward 4 elected the city’s first-ever Metis councillor, Aaron Paquette.

More diversity on Edmonton City Council

Councillor-elect for Ward 4 is Aaron Paquette, Edmononton’s first ever Metis councillor.

“Aaron — councillor-elect Paquette — I know him and I have great respect for him,” Iveson said.

READ MORE: Ward 4 votes in Edmonton’s first Metis councillor 

“First and foremost, he’s elected to represent and work for the people of Ward 4 from all backgrounds,” the mayor-elect stressed. “Just like when I was elected at 28 and people said, ‘Oh, you’re the youth councillor now,’ I think we need to be really, really careful not to assign responsibility for a single community that a councillor happens to come from.

“That said, the significance of the face of our council beginning to better reflect the diversity we see, not just in Ward 4 but across the city, is a good thing.”

Voters in Ward 5 elected Sarah Hamilton, which means city council will have two female councillors since Bev Esslinger was re-elected in Ward 2.

READ MORE: Rec centre, LRT top priorities for new Ward 5 councillor-elect Sarah Hamilton 

“Doubling the number of female councillors is good although we are still a long way from our goal of a 30 per cent threshold,” Iveson said. “Overall, we saw movement in terms of number of candidates and some races that were split that perhaps, if they hadn’t been, might have turned out differently, too.”

Alberta’s Status of Women minister congratulated all the women across Alberta who were elected.

“Your diverse backgrounds and ideas have enriched our democracy,” Stephanie McLean said. “I know your communities are better served with your unique perspectives at the table.”

“I am thrilled to see that more women ran and more women won in yesterday’s local elections across Alberta. We have more women on city councils in Edmonton and Calgary. St. Albert’s council has majority women now and in City of Lacombe, which had an all-men council of seven, two are now women! Women made similar gains on school boards in Edmonton, Calgary Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.”

Watch below: Sarah Hamilton was elected in west Edmonton’s Ward 5, which was vacating one-term councillor Michael Oshry. Hamilton joined Global News Morning to talk about her campaign and goals for city council.

“The addition of diverse voices to our council is a good thing,” the mayor-elect reiterated. “I celebrate that in Aaron’s case and Sarah’s case, certainly. I also respect what councillor-elect Dziadyk and Cartmell both bring to the table.”

Watch below: Edmonton mayor-elect Don Iveson said he has already connected with the four new councillors elected on Monday night.

Iveson on new city councillors

READ MORE: Veteran Edmonton councillor Dave Loken loses Ward 3 seat to Jon Dziadyk 

Iveson said he’s already spoken with Cartmell about city infrastructure projects and appreciates his expertise, especially in light of the city’s new approach to project management.

“Tim Cartmell for example is well familiar with those kinds of timelines and expectations from his professional background in project management. That said, Tim and I have chatted about prioritizing the 40th Avenue interchange upgrade on Terwillegar, for example. We’re perfectly well aligned on that. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to advance that in the next infrastructure cycle.”

READ MORE: Engineer and business owner elected as Edmonton Ward 9 councillor 

Edmonton’s four new city councillors at 630 CHED on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017.

Wes Rosa, Global News

“I know councillor-elect Hamilton is quite excited about the west end rec centre and wants to push for more grade separations for the west line of the LRT, which we’re working towards as well,” Iveson added. “I think we’re well aligned on a lot of the things I’ve heard from them so far as their priorities.”

The new council will also be faced with the first city budget right away.

Watch below: Engineer Tim Cartmell was elected in southwest Edmonton’s Ward 9, which was left wide open after veteran councillor Brian Anderson chose not to run again. Cartmell joined Global News Morning to talk about the campaign and what he plans to bring to city council.

Serving the entire city

Iveson shot down suggestions the city was divided in terms of its support for council or that certain neighbourhoods felt less heard than others.

“Any narrative of division I roundly reject and I think the numbers back that up… People will exploit that in this day and age that is becoming more and more common in our politics and I challenge that,” he said, adding he’d also challenge that sentiment if it ever came up within council.

“I serve the whole city and we have done — from the rec centres to the roads that we’ve built, and on the north side, a billion dollars for the Yellowhead — I think our track record of working across the whole city is sound. I’ll look for a positive way forward with each one of the councillors that’s been elected.”

The mayor-elect said he’s felt support from all areas of the city when he knocked on doors and didn’t hear about fragmentation.

“I don’t think that was a dominant theme in this election. It certainly wasn’t one I heard.”

Iveson was re-elected to the mayor’s chair with a crushing 72 per cent of the vote.

Unofficial data suggests 31.5 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Edmonton’s election.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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