Calgary embraces Neshi, Iveson takes over in Edmonton

It was a coronation in Calgary on Monday as wildly popular Mayor Naheed Nenshi handily won re-election.

It was a coronation in Calgary on Monday as wildly popular Mayor Naheed Nenshi handily won re-election.

There was also a blowout in Edmonton, where former city councillor Don Iveson took over the top job from departing mayor Stephen Mandel.

As voters across Alberta headed to the polls in the municipal elections, there seemed to be just one certainty — that the man who guided the province’s largest city through a devastating flood would be returned to office.

From the minute election results started rolling in, it was apparent Nenshi would easily defeat former councillor Jon Lord and seven other hopefuls to win his second term.

With 188 of 227 polls reporting, Nenshi had captured a whopping 74 per cent of the vote.

The efforts of volunteers to help the city rebuild were uppermost in his mind as he took the podium at his election headquarters.

“We were reminded of something this summer,” he told cheering supporters. “The extraordinary nature of the people who live in this place.”

Nenshi became a national figure for his tireless efforts to rally Calgarians swamped by the deluge in June. He worked so hard and such long hours that at one point a Twitter campaign started up urging him to get some sleep.

Even without the flood, Nenshi is a near-constant presence on social media in the city, retweeting pleas to help find lost pets or passing along community event announcements.

During his speech, he also made reference to a controversy that erupted when a secretly taped video surfaced showing a meeting of developers discussing a plan to defeat members of city council perceived to be anti-development.

“Calgarians have spoken loud and clear about the kind of community they want,” he told supporters. “A community of great, livable, walkable neighbourhoods everywhere. Not a community of never-ending sprawl, not a community of subsidized development.”

In Edmonton, Iveson also led from the moment results started coming in.

The 34-year-old captured the imaginations of many voters with Kennedy-esque pleas for Edmonton to lead on an innovation agenda.

“City-building is difficult work and the next four years aren’t going to be easy,” Iveson told supporters during his acceptance speech. “Nothing great is easy.”

He stressed what he sees as a “new sense of optimism” and a “more confident swagger” in the city, but also paid tribute to his mentor, Mandel, who he credited for bringing Edmonton to a new level during his nine years in office.

In Fort McMurray, Melissa Blake won her fourth consecutive term as mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

She campaigned on improving and stabilizing the housing situation in the oilsands boomtown, along with bylaw changes to improve traffic flow and a new mega-development of stand-alone stores and retail outlets.

Lethbridge welcomed Chris Spearman as the new mayor to replace incumbent Rajko Dodic, who did not seek re-election.

Spearman championed green initiatives such as curbside recycling.

One of the few upsets of the night came in Medicine Hat, where two-term incumbent Norm Boucher was defeated by veteran councilman Ted Clugston, who got more than 50 per cent of the votes.

In Grande Prairie, incumbent Mayor Bill Given was also re-elected over local United Way president Gladys Blackmore.

Following up on provincial legislation changes, all municipal politicians will now serve four-year terms instead of three.

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