Newly elected mayor Don Iveson kisses his wife Sarah after winning the city's municipal election, at the Matrix Hotel in Edmonton on October 21, 2013.
Photograph by: Bruce Ewards, Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - Don Iveson called for help building an “extraordinary” city Monday after winning an overwhelming victory to become Edmonton’s youngest mayor in more than a century.
“It has been educational and inspiring and incredibly moving to watch what has happened in this city since I got started,” he told a raucous, cheering crowd of 250 people packed into a ballroom at the Matrix Hotel.
“Something is happening in Edmonton. There are physical changes … but talking with hundreds of thousands of you has taught me something else. There’s a new sense of optimism in our city.”
Iveson, 34, led council rivals Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte from the time the first poll numbers were released in the evening and never looked back.
He said he plans to meet Tuesday with retiring Mayor Stephen Mandel, whom he described as a mentor and a hero, to discuss the transition of power as he starts work on his plans for an innovative Edmonton future.
He also wants to talk to the 12 councillors to determine initiatives on which they’d be interested in working, saying he’d like to build “something even more extraordinary on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.”
Iveson, who kissed his wife Sarah Chan and 16-month-old daughter Alice while son Dexter, 4, watched and supporters roared their approval, spoke to Premier Alison Redford on election night and plans to meet her later this week.
The only Edmonton mayor younger than Iveson was 28-year-old William Griesbach, elected for a single one-year term in 1906.
Iveson told the crowd he’s part of a generational change in the city.
“In this election, I believe Edmontonians signalled a willingness to pass the torch to the next generation of leadership,” he said, adding this includes business, cultural and other organizations.
“I cannot deny that I’m part of that generation and in some ways I’m being seen as its standard-bearer, but I want to assure you I will be a mayor for every Edmontonian.”
In a later news conference, he agreed that his age was a factor at the beginning of the race.
“My team showed (people) that I have the relevant experience, that I have the relevant leadership experience and I have the energy to go to work tomorrow morning.”
As Leibovici, 61, conceded defeat, she told about 250 people at the Art Gallery of Alberta they had done all they could do to sell their vision.
“The basic message we brought to the campaign is no less powerful just because we didn’t win,” the four-term councillor said.
“Edmonton has the chance to become a truly great city of the world. We’re close. We have to be bold, we have to dream. But we have to work hard and work intelligently. We can’t afford to retreat into a short sighted agenda or even worse, a lack of focus.”
Diotte, 57, was philosophical as he conceded in front of about 50 supporters. He later called the results “disappointing,” saying he didn’t have the money of his two main rivals.
“I know it hurts to lose, but every election is a win for democracy and that’s what really counts,” he said to loud cheers.
Both the losing candidates were coy about their political futures, refusing to rule out a future bid for office.
Mandel, who has already moved out of his second-floor office, and the rest of his council colleagues remain officially on the job until the new council is sworn in Oct. 29.
Voter turnout Monday was 34.5 per cent, with 213,585 of 619,138 eligible voters casting ballots.
That’s up from marginally from 2010, when turnout was 33.4 per cent. In 2007, only 27.2 per cent of eligible Edmonton voters went to the polls.
Iveson was first elected to council in 2007, defeating incumbent Mike Nickel — now returned as the Ward 11 councillor — even though Nickel spent almost three times as much money.
This time Iveson had lots of cash, revealing on the weekend he has raised $613,000, compared to more than $500,000 in donations released by Leibovici.
Diotte has refused to outline how much money he took in or who gave it until legally required next April.
Iveson’s campaign focused on his vision for the future, including help for small- and medium-sized business, making it easier to build infill housing and finding $20-million worth of efficiencies in the city budget over each of the next four years.
Leibovici, an elected politician for the last 20 years at the municipal and provincial level, stressed the need for a strong leader who could push forward major projects such as the downtown arena and the planned southeast LRT line.
She characterized Iveson as an inexperienced spendthrift, but the attacks appear to have turned off some voters.
For his part, Diotte never added much to the fiscally conservative platform he laid out when he became first to throw his hat into the race May 16 — keep property taxes down, spend more fixing roads, keep an eye on civic debt and don’t increase the amount of city money approved for the downtown arena.
With files from Keith Gerein and Mariam Ibrahim
Watch replays of the candidates' speeches:
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