VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – To borrow a time-tested phrase, it was out with the old and in with the new once the results of October’s municipal elections were cemented in stone.
At least for the most part.
A number of long-term mayors didn’t go looking for another term. It was the first election under new province-wide campaign finance rules that limited the scope of corporate and union donations to parties and candidates. But many of the same issues that plagued the region before people cast their ballots on October 19th, remain.
“This whole campaign, we’ve been talking about the challenges that face this city,” newly-minted Vancouver mayor and former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart told his supporters late on election night, after narrowly eking out a victory over the NPA’s Ken Sim.
“The opioid crisis and homelessness, congestion and the lack of transit options, small businesses and how they’re struggling. But most importantly, we talked about our housing affordability crisis.”
Stewart managed to climb to the top of a crowded field that officially, included 21 names.
South of the Fraser, what’s old is new again.
Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition nearly swept the race on promises to get tough on crime and build a SkyTrain extension over already-funded LRT.
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The former and now-current mayor will have to keep those promises, including transitioning to a municipal police department within two years, amid major budget concerns.
The rise to power of McCallum’s coalition came at the expense of the Surrey First Party which splintered apart after incumbent Linda Hepner decided not to run again. And she wasn’t the only high-profile name to call it a political career.
“I will not seek re-election and a fourth term as mayor of Vancouver in the October election,” now-former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson told a packed news conference back in January. “Ten years is a long time in politics, it’s time to make space for new leaders.”
That turned out to be the case with a dozen new faces occupying the various mayoral offices from the Fraser Valley to the coast when the smoke cleared.
A trio of new leaders was elected on the North Shore, joining Vancouver, Surrey, Delta, White Rock, the City of Langley and Chilliwack as municipalities with new leaders as of October.
LISTEN: NEWS 1130’s Simon Druker looks back on the civic election in Metro Vancouver
Long-time Burnaby incumbent Derek Corrigan found himself on the outside looking in. Former firefighter Mike Hurley is now in charge of the city that remains primary battleground in the fight over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Two-thirds of the Tri-Cities skewed younger.
Port Moody’s two-term mayor Mike Clay lost a re-election bid to Councillor Rob Vagramov, who at 28 is now the youngest municipal leader in Metro Vancouver.
Fellow millennial Brad West won the race in Port Coquitlam, while Richard Stewart managed to hang on in Coquitlam.
New Westminster, Langley Township and Richmond also returned familiar faces.
The turnover, upheaval or however else you want to term it, was unprecedented for municipal politics in B.C., according to many pundits.
The slew of new faces on election ballots caused “near-paralysis among some voters, even extreme political junkies,” noted Frances Bula at the time, a freelance writer who has covered the region’s political scene for years.
But once the campaigning ended, many of the same issues re-appeared, leaving a new slate of politicians to come up with solutions amid the vastly-altered political landscape.
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