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Photos by Mariah Wilson

Nenshi wins third term as voter turnout hits 40-year high

By Tina Shaygan, October 17 2017 — 

(With files from Justin Schellenberg)

After a divisive campaign period, Naheed Nenshi was re-elected as Calgary’s mayor for a third term on Oct. 16, capturing 51 per cent of the vote. Bill Smith trailed at 44 per cent, while no other candidate polled more than 3 per cent. The election saw the highest turnout for a municipal election in over 40 years, with 58 per cent of eligible voters casting their ballots.

As CTV declared Nenshi the predicted winner at 11 p.m. the crowd at his election party, held at National on 10th, chanted the returning mayor’s name. Nenshi arrived near midnight to a room of supporters and campaign volunteers for his victory speech.

“This was a tough campaign,” Nenshi said. “It has been tough for many reasons. But sometimes, the most difficult path can get you the most beautiful view.”

The mayor went on to thank his volunteers and supporters for standing by him in a tough election. He wrapped up his speech by thanking his competitors, particularly Bill Smith and Andre Chabot, as well as his friends and family.

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Throughout the night, supporters cheered as poll numbers were announced which placed Nenshi ahead of his competitors. A higher-than-expected voter turnout resulted in some polling stations across the city running out of ballots. And due to a shortage of ballots and polling stations opening at 10 a.m. — a time that many said was too late for those working — polling stations reported facing longer lines than usual.

Bill Smith officially conceded at 11:55 p.m. He said he will continue serving Calgary and fighting for issues he campaigned on.

I promise that I will continue serving Calgarians in the way I have before,”Smith said. “And don’t think I’m done just because we lost.”

University of Calgary alumnus Kamal Johal said she supported Nenshi because of his work in the city for the past seven years.

What he’s done for the city is amazing. The arts, the diversity,” she said. “This guy is everywhere. Every function, every event.”

Early poll numbers emphasized how close the election was, not just in the mayoral race, but in many of Calgary’s wards. One of the closest races was in Ward 7 — the ward encompassing the U of C and many of its surrounding communities — where incumbent councillor Druh Farrell took home 41 per cent of the vote as Brent Alexander trailed at 38 per cent.

All 10 incumbent councillors running for re-election secured a seat on City Council. Full unofficial election results can be found on the City of Calgary’s website.

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