EDMONTON – On Oct. 21, 213,585 Edmontonians voted in the 2013 civic election, and elected 34-year-old Don Iveson as their new mayor. Iveson received 62 per cent (132,162 votes) of the votes.
“It felt good,” admitted Iveson on the Global Edmonton Morning News on Tuesday. “We weren’t necessarily expecting that strong a result; I’ll be honest with you. And, I have to say I’m very, very grateful to the Edmontonians who came to the polls, regardless of who they voted for. And certainly, for the ones that voted for me, I recognize that it’s a huge responsibility that they’ve bestowed, and I’ll work very, very hard for all Edmontonians. I’m humbled by the results.”
“The people spoke, and I think elected a very progressive, creative, dynamic – I would say young man, but I’m not – individual, who I think will continue to take our city forward,” said outgoing Mayor Stephen Mandel on Tuesday.
“The citizens of Edmonton spoke about the future, not about the past, and not about continuing to make us a ‘good enough’ city, but a city with a great future, and I think Don is going to lead our city into that… It’s an exciting time for the City of Edmonton.”
Political analyst and former City Councillor Jim Taylor was surprised by the large margin of Iveson’s victory.
“I don’t imagine there’s anybody in town…that thought for one moment Don would get that many votes. I don’t even think Don thought he’d get that many votes,” he said.
“I immediately think back to 2007…Don proved to us once before that he could do this – defeating an incumbent, the only defeat in the last five elections of a councillor. So Don knows how to win an election, I just, quite frankly, am quite amazed at the numbers, and I think a lot of people will be,” explained Taylor.
“I think he ran an amazing campaign, but delivered to the very last second, and obviously got his vote out and got it out incredibly strong,” added Patricia Misutka, the outgoing Chief of Staff for Stephen Mandel. “A number like that comes from all across the city and it comes from all age groups, so he clearly, clearly delivered and it’s a big credit to his team.”
So, how is Iveson handling the win?
“I was just vibrating in bed last night because of the level of excitement and adrenaline.”
Edmonton’s mayor-elect said the realization of his new role started to sink in Monday night.
“It began to last night. I think when I walk into City Hall… walk into my new office, it’ll really come home.”
Iveson’s main opponents, fellow councillors seeking the mayor’s chair, were Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte.
Leibovici won 19 per cent (41,182 votes) of the vote, while Diotte took just under 16 per cent (32,917 votes).
“Obviously, I am disappointed, because you enter a race to win the race, but on the other hand, we ran a really good campaign,” said Leibovici. “We put forward some ideas that Edmontonians believed in as well, and they, however, decided they wanted a different vision that was put forward by Mayor-Elect Iveson, and that’s what the democracy is all about.”
Leibovici said she spoke to Iveson on the phone shortly after the results indicated he would take the top job.
“I said ‘congratulations, good race.’ He was in a rush, I was in a rush, but I wanted to one of the first ones to congratulate him on his win,” she said.
Diotte admitted it wasn’t the outcome he was hoping for, but congratulated both his colleagues on their respective campaigns.
“We were in it to win it, and we came up short, but I would not take back the experience for anything.”
“Those issues of debt, taxation and roads were not on the map of the other major candidates, and eventually they came around and were saying yeah, they’re very concerned with that as well, and I wish them all the success at getting those issues dealt with,” he added. “I congratulate both of them again… they both fought very good, clean, hard campaigns.”
In his interview with Global News on Tuesday morning, Iveson said he is ready to get to work right away. He said he’s meeting with outgoing Mayor Stephen Mandel on Tuesday to figure out how to make the transition at City Hall as smooth as possible.
Edmonton’s new mayor also spoke about meetings with Premier Alison Redford and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who he said has been a friend since before he entered politics.
Meanwhile, voters will keep a close eye on Edmonton’s new leader to see how he will shape the city and its future.
“I think there’s a lot of neat things that could happen for the city now,” said James Cumming, CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.
“Don’s a little younger, and I think it reflects the voice of Edmonton now, the demographics of Edmonton. We’ve got a young population, we’ve got a growing business community with a lot of youthful leaders, and I think Don will paint a great image of Edmonton, and he’ll work hard for the city.”
“I think it also says that the notion that pulling in young people is important, but also, Don pulled in every demographic across the cit,” said former City Councillor Michael Phair. “I’m very pleased with the results.”
“He’s a really smart, talented, committed guy,” said Councillor-Elect for Ward 6, Scott McKeen, but added, “Karen Leibovici gave a lot of years, commitment, time and energy to this city, and I don’t think any of us should forget that.”
“I’m very sorry that we’re going to lose some good people,” echoed Ben Henderson, who was re-elected as councillor for Ward 8. “It was really hard to see Karen and Don running against each other. Karen will be a loss. She’s been a really hard-working councillor. But I look at the new people that are coming on-board and I think that we could have some really exciting times going ahead, and really continuing to move this city forward in really exciting ways.”