Many people were predicting a change election in Delta this year, and in some respects, that’s exactly what happened Saturday night (Oct. 20).
“I couldn’t call this one,” former mayor Lois Jackson said about the election. “Usually, after all these years you have a pretty good feeling, but this was a real contest.”
This year, more than 43.3 per cent of registered voters in Delta went to the polls — a number only beaten in the last 25 years by the 2002 election, which saw a 44.6 per cent turnout.
The race was tight from the beginning between former city manager George Harvie and former police chief Jim Cessford, with Cessford at times only trailing by three percentage points. Ultimately, it was Harvie’s Achieving for Delta slate that swept the council elections, and took three out of the seven school trustee seats.
Harvie can give credit to his North Delta voters, who gave him over 40 per cent of the vote in all North Delta polling stations. Voters at Brooke Elementary favoured Harvie the most, giving him 52.5 per cent of the vote. Even voters at Jarvis Elementary, which had the lowest proportion of votes for Harvie, still gave him 40.8 per cent.
Harvie had been courting North Delta voters during the campaign period, making several election promises with a specifically North Delta focus.
But Harvie can also thank Jackson, who ran with his slate as a councillor this year. Historically, Jackson has had strong support from North Delta residents — 56 per cent of her vote for mayor came from North Delta in 2011 — and that did not change in this election.
Jackson is stepping back into the role of councillor after nearly 20 years in the mayor’s chair. She saw continued support from North Delta voters in this year’s contest, getting an average of 10.5 per cent of the vote in all North Delta polling stations.
“I’m excited, I really am,” Jackson said about returning to her role as councillor. “It really is a different role, and working with some new people that are coming on is going to be a real pleasure. And of course George, having been a city manager, it’s a new role for him, so I’m very happy to work along with George.”
Of the five remaining council seats, three were taken by other Achieving for Delta candidates: entrepreneur and farmer Alicia Guichon, former fire chief Dan Copeland and political staffer Dylan Kruger.
“Learning the ropes will be huge, getting acquainted with the files. It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks as we do that,” Kruger said during Harvie’s post-election celebration at Tsawwassen Springs Saturday night.
“As George said earlier tonight, we’re celebrating tonight, but we’re going to get to work on Monday.”
The other two remaining seats were taken by incumbent councillors Jeannie Kanakos and Bruce McDonald. Both ran under former police chief Jim Cessford with the Independents Working for You slate.
“We would have liked to have won,” Cessford said about his entire team of eight. “We had a really, really good team. But the people have spoken and they have picked the people that they would like to lead them for the next four years.”
Incumbent councillor Robert Campbell, running with fellow councillor Sylvia Bishop’s Team Delta, didn’t make it back to the council table, receiving only 5.3 per cent of the vote.
The new council reflects Delta’s largely white, English-speaking community — however, several council candidates came from different ethnic backgrounds. They just didn’t get elected.
North Delta was the only place in Delta that saw South Asian candidates in their top six council choices. Achieving for Delta’s Param Grewal was in the top six for eight of the 14 polling stations in North Delta (including the advanced poll), while Team Delta’s Simran Walia made the top six three times. Independents Working for You candidate Sandeep Pandher made the top six only once.
Although Achieving for Delta’s sweep of the council chambers is notable, perhaps the most change can be expected from the incoming Delta school board, which includes three of the slate’s four candidates: Erica Beard, Daniel Boisvert and Jessie Dosanjh.
“I think, with the [Achieving for Delta candidates] that got on here, that they’ll be able to maybe provide a more traditional bent to Delta that maybe hasn’t been there for a few years,” incumbent trustee Dale Saip said. Saip did not get re-elected, after serving on to the Delta school board since 1987.
“School districts have gotten into the habit of being embroiled in provincial issues,” he explained. “Local decisions make for us to have better schools.”
Saip also noted that this election saw more slates than usual during the campaign period, as well as well-organized campaigns “that obviously carried a lot of weight in North Delta.” (Saip was decidedly low on North Delta’s list of preferred trustees.)
Many incumbent trustee candidates did make their way back onto school board, including one independent candidate: Laura Dixon, Nick Kanakos, Val Windsor and Bruce Reid will be returning to the board table. Rhiannon Bennett, like Saip, did not make it back on the board.
There hasn’t been a major job action recently or bargaining issues, Dixon said on Saturday (Oct. 20), “so it is interesting to see that there is more change through this election than perhaps would have been anticipated.”
However, Dixon added, “it was a good campaign. I was impressed overall with the calibre of trustees, so I think we will have to incorporate their good ideas as we move forward and do some good work together as a board.”
The official results will be declared by Oct. 24.
The first meeting of Delta’s new council will be on Nov. 5, according to the city’s council calendar. The past council is expected to meet one more time on Oct. 29.
The first meeting of Delta’s new school board will be on Nov. 6.