News / Calgary

Naheed Nenshi's purple reign in Calgary will continue

Unprecedented turnout sends Calgary's incumbent mayor back for four more years

Naheed Nenshi celebrates his victory as Calgary's mayor following municipal elections in Calgary, Alta., early Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

Naheed Nenshi celebrates his victory as Calgary's mayor following municipal elections in Calgary, Alta., early Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

His purpleness will be mayor of Calgary for four more years.

After a divisive race, and with polls suggesting a serious challenge from former PC Party president Bill Smith, Nenshi returned to the mayor's seat with solid mandate.

At 12:44 a.m. Tuesday, with 52 polls of 266 still needing to report vote counts, Nenshi held a nearly 20,000 vote lead over Smith. Nenshi had 144,618 to Smith's 125,893

Speaking to reporters, Smith said the voters voice was heard.

"They made their choice and it was a hard fought battle and there was a lot of issues at stake and clearly Calgarians made their voices heard," Smith told reporters.

Smith said Nenshi had a lot of council experience and data to draw from, giving him an advantage.

Smith said he will continue to serve the city in other ways.

"It's probably not a one-and-done with me. I'll probably be looking to do something, somewhere, sometime. Don't think I'm done because of one loss," said Smith

Third place finisher Andre Chabot was bitter about the loss.

"I thought Calgarians of all people had more backbone and they would fight for what's right," he said. "They took the easy way out."

Smith's supporters had accused Nenshi of being arrogant as the campaign wore on.

Nenshi told supporters he can't promise to be a different person, but he could promise to put his pants on and go to work every single day.

"For the past 150 years, we have been a beacon of hope to people from all over this broken world."

He said the campaign was difficult, and that it often divided citizens rather than bringing them together.

"This campaign has also shown us that we're not as united as we may have thought," Nenshi said.

He said it forced him to look back both at the successes of his previous 7 years on council, but also his mistakes.

"We have so much to be proud of, but we have so much to learn from," said Nenshi.

"We are going to continue to build together. You've given me once again an extraordinary gift, and that gift is your trust and I promise you that I will never ever break that trust...I will honour the gift you've given me every single day"

Lori Williams, associate professor of political science at Mount Royal University, said Nenshi's task now is to make peace with those who voted against him.

"He's got a lot of people that are really angry with him, and he's got to address that," said Lori Williams. "He's going to have to find a way to work with (the council) ... it's going to be a real challenge for him, no question."

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