‘The U.S. got Obama … Shippagan got me’: N.B. elects first POC mayor

Click to play video: 'Historic election results in New Brunswick' Historic election results in New Brunswick
The results of the long-delayed municipal elections are finally in. As Travis Fortnum reports, there were many re-elections and a number of important firsts. – May 26, 2021

When New Brunswickers hit the ballot boxes earlier this month, they elected a historic slate of mayors province-wide.

Of the 107 municipalities, 26 elected female mayors.

In many of those, including the province’s capital of Fredericton, it’s the first time a woman will hold the seat.

And it’s the first time all three major cities (Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton) will have simultaneous female mayors.

READ MORE: New Brunswick’s 3 largest cities all elect female mayors

It’s also the first time a Person of Colour has been elected mayor in the province. Ever.

“The United States got Obama as the first Black President, Shippagan got me,” says Kassim Doumbia with a laugh.

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Doumbia has worked inside Shippagan City Hall since 2012 when he first won a seat on council.

In 2016, he took on the added role of Deputy Mayor and now, he’s in the chair himself – and feeling good about it.

“I’m really thankful for the citizens of Shippagan who decided to give me this opportunity,” he says.

“They don’t see the colour. They see the person and what they can bring to the table. For that I’m really, really grateful.”

According to Elections NB, Doumbia secured 55.16 per cent of the mayoral vote in Shippagan, with 61.59 per cent voter turnout in the riding.

That’s a huge number, seeing as the province as a whole only saw 30.35 per cent of eligible voters make their voice heard.

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Political Scientist JP Lewis says that’s not a surprise.

“Out of the three levels of government, we normally see voter turnout the lowest at the municipal level and, obviously, COVID had a major impact on the campaign,” he says.

Lewis says wins like Doumbia’s, along with the election of so many women, could add up to higher numbers next time around.

“When folks from groups who are underrepresented can see people like themselves in positions of power, that may encourage them to run someday or get involved in politics,” says Lewis.

Doumbia says the weight of his win hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but he’s excited to put on the mayor’s hat.

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