A “very nervous” Mike Nickel waits for results to start coming in with his dad Helmut at his campaign office in Edmonton on Monday Oct. 21, 2013.
Photograph by: John Lucas, Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - Southeast Edmonton voters returned former city councillor Mike Nickel to city hall Monday night, six years after the fiscal conservative was ousted by a 28-year-old political rookie named Don Iveson.
In the biggest shock of the 2007 election, Nickel lost his southwest Edmonton seat to the future mayor, following a single term in which he voted against three consecutive budgets and gained a reputation as a contrarian.
Mounting a comeback in the ward where he grew up, the 48-year-old businessman said he’s learned a lot in the past six years and looks forward to joining his former foe and other new faces on council. Nickel denied he was ever “the big ‘no’ guy,” insisting good ideas come from both sides of the political spectrum.
“The third best thing that ever happened to me in my life was to lose in 2007,” Nickel said. “It got me out of the game, and it really opened my eyes as I started to do business in Asia and South America and other places.”
Nickel amassed nearly 47 per cent of the vote, more than tripling his nearest competitor, Sonia Bitar, who received 14 per cent of it.
A former citizenship judge and board member of the Greater Edmonton Foundation, Bitar said she was pleased with her campaign regardless of the outcome.
“It’s really good to be number two. Whatever you do in life, it’s 50-50, and I’m glad I had a really good campaign,” she said.
Harvey Panesar netted 13 per cent and finished third. The 37-year-old management consultant and mixed martial arts promoter was subject to last-minute social media attacks linking him to the production of adult films.
For the past three years, Ward 11 was held by mayoral candidate Kerry Diotte. One of the city’s largest wards, it also had the fewest eligible voters. Other candidates included Punjabi radio announcer Mujahid Chak, Alberta Congress Board president Dennis Gane, food services manager Roberto Maglalang, oilfield entrepreneur Brent Schaffrick and Occupy Edmonton activist Rob Aromin.
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