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Vancouver voters don’t punish Mayor Robertson

Gregor Robertson proved impervious to charges of weak leadership over his handling of the Occupy Vancouver protest and the lead-up to the Stanley Cup riot, as he easily won a second term as mayor.

VANCOUVER — Gregor Robertson proved impervious to charges of weak leadership over his handling of the Occupy Vancouver protest and the lead-up to the Stanley Cup riot, as he easily won a second term as mayor.

Municipal elections were held across British Columbia Saturday and the results indicated few upsets.

There was one high-profile surprise in Vancouver: Adriane Carr, who served the Green Party as B.C. leader and as deputy federal leader, and who ran for seats at those two levels of government, won a city council seat under the Green banner.

“Thank you to the voters of Vancouver for proving that they have the vision to elect a Green for the first time to council,” Carr said on Shaw TV after jumping with joy over her win.

She will sit with two members of the once-dominant Non-Partisan Association in opposition to Robertson’s Vision Vancouver party.

In the last term, Vision Vancouver held all but two council seats.

“We have shown that we can manage budgets responsibly through a recession and still be environmental leaders,” Robertson said in his victory speech.

Rival Suzanne Anton, with the right-leaning NPA, put up a fierce challenge, attacking Robertson for weeks for his “dithering” over Occupy Vancouver.

But she wasn’t able to fully capitalize on the issue, with the city winning an injunction to force protesters out only on Friday, the day before the vote.

The injunction orders the campers out by mid-day Monday.

Anton, who held the lone NPA seat in the last council, lost to Robertson by almost 19,000 votes.

She conceded defeat saying she was disappointed, but heartened that the party increased its strength inside the council chambers.

“There will be more balance now at city hall. I must say, being there with nobody to second your motions was a challenging position,” she said to laughter from supporters.

“It did mean that things like the Stanley Cup riot didn’t get debated and the Occupy Vancouver didn’t get debated. Now there will be debate at city hall.”

Robertson ducked the Occupy issue when asked what happens next.

“Nothing has changed since yesterday, tonight it’s all about the election,” he told reporters, before heading back to celebrate with supporters.

Voter turnout in Vancouver was actually up this year, after some pundits predicted it would likely be down. More than 34 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots, compared to 31 per cent in 2008.

Vancouver’s reluctance to try someone new in the mayor’s chair was shared by municipalities throughout B.C. as incumbents were widely re-elected.

Popular Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, once tabbed as a possible successor to former premier Gordon Campbell as Liberal leader, was re-elected with 80 per cent of the vote.

Dean Fortin made it look easy in Victoria, getting re-elected as mayor with more than double the votes of his nearest rival.

Other incumbents in Burnaby, Delta and Richmond were also re-elected after being in office for more than a decade.

Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar was another who won a second term, although his margin of victory over last-minute opponent Dieter Dudy was a mere 200 votes. The organic farmer filed his nomination papers on the deadline day last month.

One notable exception to the incumbent victory trend occurred in Mission, a bedroom community east of Vancouver on the Fraser River, where two-term mayor James Atebe was defeated by Ted Adlem.

City council there had been embroiled in a controversy over a bylaw that prompted some residents to launch a class action lawsuit over thousands of dollars they were billed in so-called inspection fees.

Whistler also bucked the incumbent trend, with Nancy Wilhelm-Morden defeating Ken Melamed to become the resort community’s first woman mayor.

And Shari Green slew incumbent Dan Rogers in Prince George to become the first candidate in that city’s history to unseat a sitting mayor.