News / Halifax

'Marked in the history books:' Lindell Smith wins District 8 by huge margin, first black councillor in 16 years

Lindell Smith landed more than 51 per cent of the votes (over 3,400) during the municipal election Saturday

Lindell Smith is all emotion as he holds his daughter Jahtaya, age 7, after winning his District 8 seat Saturday night.

Jeff Harper / Metro Order this photo

Lindell Smith is all emotion as he holds his daughter Jahtaya, age 7, after winning his District 8 seat Saturday night.

Lindell Smith says he may have a steep learning curve ahead, but will work hard and “not be afraid to ask questions,” after a historic win where he became the first black councillor in 16 years.

Smith handedly won District 8, Halifax Peninsula North, with about 52 per cent of the vote (more than 3,400 ballots) during Saturday’s municipal election.

After an emotional evening with chants of “councillor Smith” and tears as he hugged his family, Smith said they achieved something “the city has never seen.”

“We showed the city that when a community comes together, change really happens,” Smith, 26, told reporters outside Alteregos Coffee House on Gottingen Street, holding 7-year-old daughter Jahtaya.

“Our city is diverse itself, and our council needs to reflect that.”

In the past 20 years (since amalgamation in 1996) there has only been one black councillor - Graham Downey, who served until 2000.

Although Smith said his roots and support in the African Nova Scotian community are “part of the puzzle,” at the end of the day he will be a city councillor and carry “every single one” of his residents issues.

“The reason why we’ve won most of these stations … is because everyone realized that it was really time,” said Smith, a Halifax North Memorial Public Library community library assistant and youth advocate.

Although Smith said he has no political experience, he’ll work hard, “learn everything,” and carry what he’s already been doing into council while “not being afraid to ask questions.”

Smith said going into Saturday night he wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew his campaign had worked hard, knocked on thousands of doors, and no matter the outcome “we made a difference. We started a conversation that wasn’t being had.”

Lindell Smith speaks to his supporters after winning District 8.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Lindell Smith speaks to his supporters after winning District 8.

His first priorities as councillor include scrutinizing the upcoming Centre Plan to make sure the policies match neighbourhoods, Smith said, and eliminating registration fees for recreation programs to eliminate barriers for youth and seniors.

Throughout the evening Smith talked with a crowd of around 80 supporters as numbers were called out, and there were lots of smiles with pats on the back as it became clear Smith was the winner, with one woman calling out “history in the making.”

Fellow candidate Brenden Sommerhalder came to shake Smith’s hand in congratulations around 8:25 p.m., and although Smith said at that point he wanted to wait for more results he wasn’t expecting to see “these numbers.”

Chants of “speech, speech” began just before 9 p.m. and Smith got up on a chair to tell the crowd the night will be forever “marked in the history books.”

“We put our community into a new light. We showed that somebody like me, an average Joe who cares about the community, can make a difference,” Smith said to cheers and applause.

More on Metronews.ca