Jyoti Gondek made history Monday, becoming Calgary’s first ever female mayor.
Gondek prevailed in a hotly-contested Calgary mayoral race that saw 27 candidates vying for the city’s top job. She won with 45 per cent of the vote, with outgoing Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas finishing next with 30 per cent of the vote. Outgoing Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison was third with 13 per cent of the vote.
It was a come-from-behind effort for Gondek, who early on was trailing the initial frontrunner Farkas in a July poll and then again in late September. Two October polls, however, had Gondek edging out Farkas and riding momentum into Monday’s vote.
“My heart is full at the thoughts of how much love and support I have received not only from the day I announced, but all the way up to today,” Gondek told supporters at her campaign HQ Monday night.
“Now we turn to that focus on the mission of service to build a stronger city.”
The Calgary municipal election campaign kicked into full gear after the September federal election, with mayoral candidates sparring in several forums held across Calgary.
Gondek came under scrutiny after gaining the endorsement from Calgary’s Future, a union-funded third-party advertiser. Farkas and others waged a fierce public relations battle against Gondek and other endorsed candidates saying city hall would be controlled by unions.
Both Gondek and fellow candidate Davison hounded Farkas about the continual misrepresentation of facts during the campaign. They also went after his vote against the city’s vaccine passport bylaw in September.
With a very new council elected, Gondek said the first task is meeting with her new team.
“I’m very excited about this prospect of creating a new team, one that prioritizes the well-being of Calgarians through ensuring that we understand our collective strength,” she said.
“Your new council will pull together around a common vision that makes us more resilient as a city.”
Jeromy Farkas concedes early in the evening
Right out of the gate, Jeromy Farkas was behind in the vote counts. The gap widened throughout the evening. He spoke with supporters shortly after 9 p.m. Monday.
Farkas told supporters at a viewing event at Heritage Park that they waged a strong campaign that resonated with thousands of Calgarians. He campaigned on a message of change, a shake-up at Calgary city hall.
Farkas touted a four-year tax freeze, a downtown police station and cleaning up things like city pensions and improved public safety.
But Farkas was conciliatory in his concession speech.
“Thank you, Jyoti, for your tremendous service, and your incredible vision of tremendous potential that you put forward for our city,” he said.
“I take to heart that you as our next mayor will represent not just those who voted for you, but those of us who advocated for change. You’ve earned the trust of Calgarians to lead.”
Taking care of business
In her first live interview with LiveWire Calgary, Gondek said one of the immediate things the City of Calgary can do is declare a climate emergency.
Gondek also said that with the prospect of Sean Chu being re-elected in Ward 4 that action would be taken as a result of a recent news story around a 1997 incident involving a 16-year-old girl.