After many months of campaigning, those are the most fitting words I can find to sum up Monday’s decisive election win.
When it was all said and done, we had captured 72.47% of the vote, with an overwhelming 141,182 Edmontonians casting their votes in our column.
I’m proud of the campaign we ran, especially when so many people were saying that the election was over before it began. Never taking anything for granted, we set out to campaign for Edmonton, for a city that’s equipped to handle the pressures of a million people and the opportunity of being the youngest city in the country. Our policies reflected the Edmonton we want to leave for our kids and grandkids, and I’m so thankful for the campaign team that delivered on this goal. The results are as much a reflection of their efforts as mine.
Despite the results, some questioned the strength of our mandate and what it meant for Council going forward. In particular, the troubling narrative of ‘north side vs south side’ and the ‘suburbs vs downtown’ seemed to suggest that Council was set up for a showdown. It was a strange angle to an otherwise positive story I heard from Edmontonians themselves, one where our city is united behind a vision and plan for Edmonton’s future. Hence the overall result. In the face of these divisive counter narratives, I have said and will continue to say that I reject unequivocally the polarization of our politics anywhere, but especially when it comes to city council. My early meetings with Councillors new and old have confirmed what I suspected – that we’re all here for Edmonton first and foremost, and that all parts of the city must thrive for the whole to be successful.
Just after filing my nomination papers, I said that elections give leaders the opportunity to check in with Edmontonians and listen to their aspirations for our city – as well as hear about the places where we have more work to do. We heard several key themes on the doors and in sidewalk conversations with people. For starters, they want to ensure that we are taking project management seriously, and holding officials and contractors accountable to reduce the kinds of delays and mismanagement that we experienced in the last term. The previous Council made significant changes to address these issues, but this change is still underway and we should all expect much better performance going forward. I’m certain each member of Council feels the same way. We also heard concerns over LRT expansion and the impact it would have on traffic. I committed to separating trains from traffic at key intersections as we go west to avoid the kind of snarls we see at Kingsway Ave and near the University of Alberta.
I’ve always tried to run elections where people voted for something rather than against something. So while the lessons for improvement are clear, so is the vision Edmontonians voted for. The energy around City Hall this week was palpable as Councillors new and old, staff in my office, and city administrators began working on fulfilling the promises we made.
I’m optimistic. Let’s get to work.