In the end, Mayor Naheed Nenshi was re-elected and all ten incumbents won in the Calgary civic election. But that doesn’t mean there were no surprises. Here are six of the biggest surprises from election night.
Long lines, no ballots, huge voter turnout. During the 2013 municipal election, voter turnout sat at 39 per cent with 262,352 ballots cast. This year, voter turnout reached 58.1 per cent with 387,306 ballots, the highest turnout in over 40 years according to a tweet from the City of Calgary.
— City of Calgary (@cityofcalgary) October 17, 2017
However, some polling stations were not prepared for the huge increase in voter turnout. A few stations actually ran out of ballots during the evening, leaving lines of Calgarians stretching around the block waiting for more ballots to come. According to a tweet from Greg Hartzler, campaign manager for Ward 2 incumbent Joe Magliocca, two communities in northwest Calgary were directed to a single voting station. In another instance, some Calgarians coming to vote at St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Calgary had to wait for 90-minutes before they cast their ballot.
— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) October 16, 2017
Edmonton begins posting results long before Calgary. By 8:46 p.m., the results of the municipal election in Edmonton were beginning to pour in and polls showed the incumbent Don Iveson leading early on. Meanwhile, polling station issues meant Calgarians did not get to see results until much later in the evening. By 10:30 p.m., Don Iveson was declared the winner in a landslide, securing his second term. Meanwhile, Elections Calgary had only counted 17 of 32 city wide voting stations by 10:39 p.m. At 11:13 p.m. Elections Edmonton was finished counting while Elections Calgary continued its tally until about 6 a.m.
— Edmonton Journal (@edmontonjournal) October 17, 2017
Four fresh faces join city council. Earlier this year, three councillors announced that they would be stepping away from municipal politics for various reasons — Jim Stevenson from Ward 3, Richard Pootmans from Ward 6 and Brian Pincott from Ward 11. After the electoral boundaries were redrawn, Coun. Ray Jones from Ward 5 moved to run in Ward 10, leaving Ward 5 open to a field of candidates. The newly minted councillors are Jyoti Gondek in Ward 3, George Chahal in Ward 5, Jeff Davison in Ward 6 and Jeromy Farkas in Ward 11.
Almost all of the incumbents keep their jobs. Despite incredibly tight races in Wards 1, 4, 7 and 9, all of the incumbent councillors came back to work on Tuesday, Oct. 17. At some points in the evening, results showed only five ballots separating Ward 9 incumbent Gian-Carlo Carra and his closest challenger Cheryl Link. In Ward 7, incumbent Druh Farrell and challenger Brent Alexander were separated by just over 800 votes by the end of the night.
— Druh Farrell (@DruhFarrell) October 17, 2017
Meanwhile, in the school trustee election, only one incumbent was defeated when Marilyn Dennis beat Pamela King in Wards 5 and 10.
Nenshi comes out on top despite some polls suggesting otherwise. In the weeks leading up to the election, various polls showed that Smith was leading over the incumbent, with some polls suggesting Smith having a double-digit lead. However, at 10:53 p.m. CTV News Calgary declared Nenshi the victor, clinching his third term as mayor and at 11:21 p.m., Global News Calgary and the CBC followed suit shortly afterward. Nenshi received 199,122 total votes or 51 per cent of the vote. Smith gave Nenshi a hard fought campaign, but came up short, with 43 per cent of the vote.
Previous Ward 10 councillor Andre Chabot — who was first elected in 2005 — placed third, securing 11,945 votes or three per cent.
Moose stands in the way of democracy (kind of). Early in the afternoon, an injured moose on the loose in Dover stood in the way of some voters casting their ballots. Tom Shirlaw and his partner told Global News Calgary a moose prevented them from making use of Elections Calgary’s in-house ballot process, a service that sends deputies from Elections Canada to the homes of immobile voters so they can vote. The couple required the in-house ballot process because of previous, unrelated health conditions and had to wait for 45-minutes before Elections Calgary staff returned. Ultimately, the moose was immobilized at 6 p.m. and the couple eventually cast their ballots.