History was made twice Saturday night as the votes were tallied in Delta’s municipal election.
Not only was George Harvie’s Achieving for Delta slate the first to ever sweep the race for mayor and council, but candidates Jessie Dosanjh and Jennifer Johal became the first people of South Asian descent to be elected to city council.
“I’m so grateful to the voters of Delta for showing trust in me for another four years. I’m very humbled and having all of my candidates elected is amazing. It allows us to go forward in a very positive way,” a jubilant Harvie told the Reporter Saturday night.
“I also want to ensure that we are uniting this city instead of this north/south divide which other councils have promoted over the years. We want to be one united city.”
Harvie led the three-way race for mayor the whole night, finishing with 77 per cent of the vote — 17,050, compared to 3,751 for Peter van der Velden and 1,341 for Joginder Randhawa.
(Editor’s note: All results are preliminary pending the official count, which will be announced at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19.)
As the last of the city’s 32 polls reported in, Harvie’s Achieving for Delta candidates had also claimed all but one seat on Delta’s school board, giving Harvie a near-perfect win and a strong mandate as he enters his second term in office.
“[Our first priority is] looking at the organization. We need to improve our efficiencies, and with a united council we can move that way,” Harvie said. “We need to get our permitting process overhauled, modernize it and ensure we can those out quicker, because the quicker buildings are finished the more taxes we have.”
Incumbent Alicia Guichon, who also ran with Harvie in 2018, led the race for council with 16,533 votes.
“I’m very humbled [and] thankful to the residents for trusting me again for four years. They really took a chance the first time, but it feels really, really nice to know they still wanted me in,” she said.
Fellow incumbent Dylan Kruger, also elected for the first time as part of Harvie’s team in 2018, garnered 14,242 votes, coming second, followed by first-time council candidates Daniel Boisvert (14,130), Jennifer Johal (12,788), Rod Binder (12,626) and Jessie Dosanjh, who won the final seat on council with 12,582 votes.
Seven other candidates also ran for council: Brian Read (5,772 votes), Maha Balakumar (5,005), Pamela Swanigan (4,778), Moneca Kolvyn (4,387) Duncan Callander (3,812), Julien Jacques (3,340) and Stephan Sun (3,248).
Voter turnout was much lower this election than it was in 2018. Only 22,655 of the 75,739 residents registered to vote cast a ballot this time around — just shy of 30 per cent. Last election, 31,434 out of 73,110 registered voters cast a ballot, about 43 per cent.
Kruger attributed Saturday’s sweep to Harvie’s leadership over the past four years, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic, and Achieving for Delta’s strong platform resonating with voters.
“I think the people of Delta were ready for generational change on council, real solutions to the housing crisis, real solutions to the climate crisis, real solutions to some of the public safety challenges that our city is facing — and we delivered that,” he told the Reporter Saturday night.
“[This is] the first time in Delta history that an entire team has swept council, and that’s a clear mandate from the people of Delta to move forward with Achieving for Delta’s vision.”
For Johal, Saturday’s sweep was a win for diversity and representation at city council.
Johal said she agreed to run for council when Harvie asked her earlier this year for two reasons: to represent Delta’s industrial areas and to be voice for the city’s minority community.
“Forty per cent of our tax base is from Annacis Island and from Tilbury — we need a little bit of representation,” Johal, who’s family owns Raja Trailer in Tilbury, told the Reporter. “[Harvie] is pro-business, which is so important.”
“The second part was I wanted ensure and I wanted to have representation of our community — and I don’t just mean Indo-Canadian, I mean the diverse community of Delta. And we finally did it.”
“Delta has never had a minority on council,” she said. “And council should be representative of our community, we’re so diverse. So this is so important, this is historic. And for me, emotionally, this is huge.”
Johal said language can be a barrier to some residents engaging with city issues, and that having her and Dosanjh on council can help make council more accessible.
“I think sometimes you feel at ease when there’s someone of your representation that’s at the council table,” she said. “To me, it’s just accessibility and [people] identifying [with us].”
“When we were door-knocking, there were multiple homes that we came across where people were like, ‘my kids are saying why is there no one that looks like us on council?’ And this was an opportunity (…) to finally in 2022 have equal representation. That’s what it comes down to.”
The first council meeting post-election is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24 at the North Delta Centre for the Arts.