Halifax’s new city council is ready to get down to business after being sworn in Thursday in a historic ceremony that saw more women than ever take their place at the council table
In all, eight women were elected in the 2020 Halifax regional municipal election, which saw an eight-per cent increase in voter turnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The election saw 128,160 votes cast, with the majority of electors voting by phone and online. That’s 40 per cent of eligible voters who cast a ballot, up from 32 per cent in 2016.
This marks the first time council has struck gender parity with an equal number of women and winning district seats.
Mayor Mike Savage won his third term by a landslide, capturing 80.2 per cent of the votes, and he says gender balance at the council table is a move in the right direction.
“Experience comes in many forms, and when you look at the resumes of the people who have been elected, it’s very impressive and very broad,” said Savage.
“We have a lot of highly educated, really experienced new councillors who are women who will bring that to the table, to the betterment of the municipality.”
Newly sworn-in councillor Iona Stoddard becomes just the first Black woman elected to Halifax council, beating out incumbent Richard Zurawski in District 12 by 399 votes.
Stoddard was thrilled to see more women elected than ever and hopes she can be a role model for the next generation.
“I’m so glad to see it happen and I think being the first woman of colour elected, it will open the door for others to come through and show that it can be done.”
Cathy Deagle Gammon was the second elected councillor to beat an incumbent, edging out Steve Streatch by 109 votes to win District 1, and was quick to credit her campaign team.
“Winning this seat was because we had an amazing agent, manager and a very eclectic and diverse team, and multi-generation team,” said Deagle Gammon.
“That’s what made the difference and what gave me the confidence.”
Kathryn Morse says when she went door-to-door on the campaign trail, many residents were specifically looking for more diversity on council.
The last term of council saw just two women hold seats. Lorelei Nicoll, who represented District 4, Cole Harbour-Westphal, didn’t reoffer but Lisa Blackburn regained her council seat District 14 seat, easily capturing 80 per cent of the votes.
“With the more perspectives we have, there more experiences we bring to the council, I think we can understand and empathize with people better when we bring a variety of experiences,” said Morse. ”
Patty Cuttle narrowly beat runner-up Bruce Holland by 28 votes in District 11, but she wasn’t sworn in as Holland has called for a recount that’s expected to take place on Monday, while council will hold its first meeting Nov. 10.
Here’s a complete list of those elected to Halifax regional council:
- District 1: Cathy Deagle Gammon
- District 2: David Hendsbee
- District 3: Becky Kent
- District 4: Trish Purdy
- District 5: Sam Austin
- District 6: Tony Mancini
- District 7: Waye Mason
- District 8: Lindell Smith
- District 9: Shawn Cleary
- District 10: Kathryn Morse
- District 11: Patty Cuttell
- District 12: Iona Stoddard
- District 13: Pam Lovelace
- District 14: Lisa Blackburn
- District 15: Paul Russell
- District 16: Tim Outhit