Calgary has a new mayor and a number of records to be proud of. It’s been five days since Calgarians went to the polls in record turnout, 53.24% by some estimates, and elected a candidate who, only a few months ago, was polling as a distant third place behind a highly visible former Alderman and local news anchor.
Running a distinctly purple campaign, Naheed Nenshi claimed a surprising victory over the perceived poll leaders. Claiming 40% of the vote, Nenshi claimed approximately twenty eight thousand more votes than second place former Alderman Ric McIvor. As a University of Calgary alumnus, former president of our student union, and recently professor at Mount Royal University, the Harvard graduate’s background is embedded within the local educational community. Calgarians may also recognize Nenshi from his work in citizen action group Civic Camp. His campaign was particularly active here at the University of Calgary campus, which could be seen as a risky move as it targeted students: a demographic that is often the most strongly opinionated yet least likely to actually vote. The purple camp also utilized some unconventional campaign methods. Reported in the media as extensively leveraging social media networks and technology, the campaign also went low-tech, writing their message at our feet in chalk all across the city. Calgarian media has been quick to point out a Canadian first: Naheed Nenshi has become the first Muslim mayor in the country.
This year’s voter turnout marks the first time more than half of Calgarians came out to vote since the City began keeping track in 1983. The previous record was 48.6% in 1989. This year’s results humble turnout in the past two civic elections (2007, 2004) where turnout dipped as low as 19%.
The city also saw several new Aldermen to their seats on council. The seats left vacant by Joe Connely, Ric McIvor, and Bob Hawkesworth who chose to race for the big seat have been filled with new faces. Joe Ceci, who chose not to run for other pursuits, has been succeeded by Gian-Carlo Carra in Ward 9. One incumbent, Linda Fox-Melway was defeated while others, such as Druh Farrell and Brian Pincott, held their chairs with leads less comfortable than they likely would have wanted. This may have been due to a number of factors including strong competitor campaigns and a redrawing of Ward boundaries.
To get a brief overview of Nenshi’s platform and see what may be in store for the city, visit his website
News Coverage of the Election