Penny N. Lim, one of the first supporters to arrive at Kennedy Stewart’s campaign celebration on election day, predicted that he would “squeak in” to win the Vancouver mayoral race.
After a tense five and a half hour wait, her prediction came true.
On Oct. 20, 2018 Stewart beat out the NPA’s Ken Sim by 984 votes, making him the first independent candidate to be elected to the city’s top job in more than 30 years.
Stewart supporters packed the basement of the Waldorf hotel — cheering when results come in that showed Stewart ahead, gasping and booing when Sim took the lead.
Stewart’s campaign staff said he would not address the crowd until Sim conceded or until all 133 polling places reported results.
Too close to call until after midnight
Around 12:45 a.m. Stewart walked through the raucous crowd — kissing his wife, shaking hands and hugging supporters.
When the former NDP MP took the stage, he invoked the late Jack Layton.
“When I launched my campaign back in May, it was a big thing to take on, and all I could hear in my head was Jack Layton’s voice. Jack Layton always said: Never let them tell you it can’t be done,” Stewart said.
“I want to thank my endorsers, especially the Vancouver District Labour Council,” he said, in a move that was greeted with a chorus of cheers.
The mayor-elect also encouraged a round of applause for long-time NDP MP Libby Davies, who was in the crowd.
He reiterated key parts of his platform before leaving the stage, emphasizing his commitment to ending the housing affordability and opioid crises.
Conciliatory approach to new council, critics
Stewart will preside over a council that is evenly split between left and right leaning councillors.
Stewart said he’s confident he’s he can work with the new council and with the 70 per cent of voters who didn’t cast a ballot for him.
“We’re going to have to go policy by policy and make sure we don’t alienate anybody as we’re moving forward,” he said. “I will listen to everyone in the city. That’s what I’m known for and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”
Future councillors join in late night celebration
Newly elected councillors joined in the celebration, including the Green Party’s Michael Wiebe and OneCity’s Christine Boyle.
Adriane Carr, who will be representing the Green Party for a third term on council was also in attendance. She’s optimistic about working with Stewart.
“I was really pleased that when we put out our housing platform he actually put out to the world that he endorsed it and looked forward to working with us to implement it. That’s a really good start.”
Carr said she hopes the OneCity and COPE councillors will vote with the Greens to “achieve some really progressive change.”
“We need change in this city, that’s what this election was really about,” she said.
Vision Vancouver were firmly shut out of city hall after ten years in power. They didn’t secure a single seat on council despite running five candidates.