Our last post took a look at the 2013 mayoral race. Now, I’d like to take a look at the councillor race and discuss a few things that stuck out to me.
The most obvious thing is that all 5 incumbents were elected. There are some interesting items regarding that however.
It wasn’t that surprising they were all elected given that there was no polarizing issue this time around. In 2010, the ABCP fiasco upset much of the electorate and three incumbents lost their seat, something that hadn’t happened since Jeff Coffman lost his in 1998.
4 of the 5 incumbents took the top 4 spots, but the 5th took the last spot. Joe Mauro is back in top spot, where he consistently placed each time he ran as an incumbent. Ryan Parker was up from 4th place and back in 2nd place, right alongside Mauro as in the 2001 election. Coffman jumped from 9th place in 2010 to 3rd place this year. Jeff Carlson jumped only one spot from 4th place.
Liz Iwaskiw, on the other hand, dropped from 7th place to 8th place, just barely squeaking by former school board trustee Lea Switzer. Iwaskiw started off in 6th place as the polls started coming in, but quickly dropped to 7th place after Wade Galloway overtook her. It didn’t long for her to drop again when Blaine Hyggen climbed into 7th place. Despite Switzer nipping at her heels all night, Iwaskiw managed to stay in with only 131 votes.
Also noteworthy of Iwaskiw’s win is that, as others have reported, she is the only woman on council now. This is the first time since newcomer Barbara Lacey topped the polls in 1995 that only one seat on council has been held by a woman. It will be an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on.
It was no surprise that Rob Miyashiro won. He beat out Carlson in the Liberal nomination in the Lethbridge East riding for last year’s provincial election and came in third place in the actual election. He has worked for over 5 years managing the Lethbridge Senior Citizen Organization. Miyashiro hit 5th place early in the polls and stayed there all night long.
Galloway was a bit of a surprise. He has lived in Lethbridge for only about 7 years. He placed 7th place (out of 10) in the 2011 byelection, and his network seems smaller than some of the others who won. He has displaced Ryan Parker (finally) as the youngest person on council, and it will be interesting to watch how his past experience as a political watchdog and analyst will affect his contributions to city council.
This was Hyggen’s 4th election (if you count the byelection), and you have to admire his never-give-up attitude. He wasn’t in the top 8 early in the polls, but about a third of the way, he displaced Switzer and then Iwaskiw. He placed 10th and 11th in the 2007 and 2010 elections, respectively, so it wasn’t going to take much to give him that bit of a push to make it into the top 8. His wasn’t a remarkable campaign, and his forum performance was lackluster showing a lack of understanding of several key issues. He had a big campaign team working behind him, but now we’ll see how well he can work on his own. Hopefully, it won’t take long for him to get his feet wet.
Here are a few thoughts on the people who didn’t make it.
Lea Switzer came in 9th place, only (as we mentioned above) 121 votes behind Iwaskiw. She started strong in the polls at 6th place, but couldn’t maintain it. Once she hit 9th place, she just couldn’t break that 100+ lead that Iwaskiw had on her. She placed 10th when she ran in 2010, and got second place in the byelection. That being said, she had been elected as a public school board trustee and her husband Mark Switzer was a 2001 mayoral candidate, as well as a nomination candidate to replace Rick Casson as MP. Lethbridge knows the Switzer name. She has a good chance of getting on council if she runs in 2017.
Martin Heavy Head placed 13th out 29, which was impressive for a newcomer and someone still in his 20s. The last time Lethbridge voted in someone in their 20s was in 1998, when Parker ran. His age was a barrier from the start, but he was charismatic in the forums and had a good understanding of the issues. He was intelligent and eloquent. It would be interesting to see how he’d place if he ran in 2017.
Michelle Madge took a run at a council seat for the second time. She had confidence she’d place well since she came in 9th place in 2007. For some reason, that same public confidence in here never materialized this time around, and she placed 15th place. She, too, had a poor performance in the forums, showing a lack of understanding of the issues.
All the other candidates placed pretty predictably, with one more exception: Kevin Layton. While he did place pretty low, 6 other candidates placed below him, his best showing yet. This was his 3rd election, having run in 2007 and 2010 (and the 2011 by-election). He placed dead last in 2007, and 3rd last in 2010. With a 7th-to-last showing this time around, it will be interesting to watch if Layton can slowly crawl his way up the polls.
As far as numbers go, while it seems impressive that Mauro received more votes than any single candidate (including Chris Spearman), it was actually his lowest showing ever as a councillor candidate. He received 11,143 in 1998, 15,330 in 2001, and 12,962 in 2010. It was also his lowest showing as far as share of the popular vote.
Parker had a pretty good showing, outdoing his 2007 and 2010 numbers, but falling short of his 1998, 2001, and 2004 numbers.
Carlson, on the other hand, had his best showing yet, beating out his 2007 and 2010 numbers.
Iwaskiw performed the worst of the incumbents. She not only placed below her 2004 and 2010 numbers, she was 1000 votes lower than the last election, which itself was already 2000 votes lower than her 2004 placement.
Overall, on the surface, this council seems to be a good one. It has a mix of new and veteran names, as well as young and old. It also has an injection of people known for questioning, which has the potential for some good debate.
Will we see a cage match in council chambers any time soon? Only time will tell, but it might be one solution to improve voter turnout. Speaking of which, tune in later when we look at voter turnout.