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Ken Sim defeats Kennedy Stewart to become mayor as ABC party sweeps Vancouver election

Click to play video: 'B.C. municipal election: Vancouver mayor-elect Ken Sim gives victory speech 4 years after defeat'
B.C. municipal election: Vancouver mayor-elect Ken Sim gives victory speech 4 years after defeat
WATCH: Vancouver mayor-elect Ken Sim gave an emotional victory speech Saturday evening as he and his ABC party swept incumbent Kennedy Stewart and other longtime councillors. Sim had lost to Stewart in the 2018 race but told the crowd: "You can't lose if you never give up." – Oct 16, 2022

Vancouver has a new mayor, after voters sent a clear message, overwhelmingly choosing ABC’s Ken Sim over incumbent Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Global News projects.

Sim looks set to have a free hand implementing policy as well, appearing set to bring his entire slate to council, the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver School Board.

Click to play video: 'B.C. municipal election: Kennedy Stewart congratulates Vancouver mayor-elect Ken Sim in concession speech'
B.C. municipal election: Kennedy Stewart congratulates Vancouver mayor-elect Ken Sim in concession speech
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Saturday’s landslide was a far cry from the 2018 nail-biter in which Stewart defeated Sim by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Describing his election as the “longest job interview ever,” Sim told cheering supporters they would see a difference in city hall.

“ABC Vancouver was born out of a desire for change, a desire to do politics differently,” he said.

“It was born on the province that decision in government should not be made on the advice of polls, lobbyists, activists, or whatever is trending on Twitter, but instead it should be made on the advice of parents and educators and scientists and healthcare providers and what’s happening in community town halls and coffee shops.”

Sim, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Rosemary Rocksalt bagels, is the City of Vancouver’s first mayor of Asian heritage.

“One-hundred and thirty-five years after the first Chinese head tax was paid just for the right to come here and work on building the railway, Vancouver has elected its first Chinese Canadian mayor,” he said.

“The history of this moment isn’t lost on me, but the honour really goes to the shoulders I am standing on.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. municipal election: Q&A with Vancouver mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart'
B.C. municipal election: Q&A with Vancouver mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart

 

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Around 10 p.m., Stewart conceded, acknowledging Sim’s win was a “solid one,” and wishing him luck in what he predicted would be a “tough” four years.

“These last four years have been pretty tough, we’ve accomplished a lot but I do think we got the city through pretty hard times,” Stewart said.

“This is not the result we wanted, of course, but it is the result the voters have given us and we have to respect it.”

During the 2022 campaign, Sim criticized Stewart’s term as being plagued with “missed opportunities, division and combativeness.”

Stewart faced significant criticism over the campaign, amid rising street crime, homelessness, street disorder and overdose deaths. That criticism also included blowback from the Vancouver Police Union, which broke with a long tradition of neutrality in elections and endorsed Sim.

The Non-Partisan Association and ABC Vancouver both sought to position themselves as the champions of public safety, both recruiting from law enforcement — in the NPA’s case, including former West Vancouver police officer Fred Harding as its mayoral contender.

A series of missteps from the NPA, including replacing their first mayoral candidate mid-campaign, however, sidelined Vancouver’s oldest party, which appears not to have elected a single candidate.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. municipal election: Q&A with Vancouver mayoral candidate Ken Sim'
B.C. municipal election: Q&A with Vancouver mayoral candidate Ken Sim

Sim and ABC have pledged to immediately hire 100 police officers and 100 mental health nurses to address the city’s crime and drug issues — a campaign pledge they say resonated on the doorstep.

He has pledged to pay for the new hires by finding savings from wasteful spending in the city budget.

The decision comes after a crowded and at-times bruising campaign that saw a ballot with more than 100 candidates, including 15 people running for mayor and 59 running for council.

Housing also took centre stage in the contest, with the always salient issue of affordability this time coloured by battles over the pace of development and public appetite for densification.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. municipal elections: Q&A with Vancouver mayoral candidate Collen Hardwick'
B.C. municipal elections: Q&A with Vancouver mayoral candidate Collen Hardwick

Stewart positioned himself as the champion of renters, pledging to expand renter protections enshrined in the contentious and recently approved Broadway Plan city-wide, and to approve more than 222,000 new homes — more than half of them rentals and social housing units — over the next decade.

Sim, meanwhile, focused on eliminating delays in permit approvals, with a “3x3x3x1 permit approval system” that would see permit wait times slashed to weeks or months for most projects.

TEAM for a Livable Vancouver’s Colleen Hardwick, by contrast, campaigned on slashing the pace of development, repealing the Broadway Plan, and giving neighbourhoods more power over the approval of new projects.

TEAM’s message appeared not to resonate with the public, with Hardwick projected to land in a distant third in the mayoral race, and none of the party’s council candidates appearing likely to nab a seat.

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– More to come

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