Historic municipal election results bring more diversity, gender parity to local government
HALIFAX -- It was an historic election that in many ways changed the face of elected office in Nova Scotia.
When the voters in her district went to the polls, Iona Stoddard had a hunch.
"They want diversity," she said.
She was right and Stoddard won the seat on the Halifax Regional Council.
It was historic, making her the first black woman elected to council.
"It means I have opened a door for woman of colour, Indigenous women to have a seat on council," Stoddard said.
Stoddard says her election is a long overdue result.
"Council should represent the people," she said. "I feel it is reflecting what the city is all about."
In Cape Breton, when Amanda McDougall decided to run for mayor of the CBRM, she did not expect to win.
"And if I did, then I thought it was going to be a real squeaker," McDougall said.
But Saturday night, she pulled off an upset victory, and it was decisive.
McDougall defeated incumbent Mayor Cecil Clarke by almost four thousand votes.
It was, she says, overwhelming.
"I had to look at the numbers a couple of times because I wasn't ready to see such a strong finish," she said. "I was so proud."
And what does McDougall say this election tells us about the voters of Cape Breton?
That they would vote in the first female CBRM mayor who also happens to be seven months pregnant?
"They want to change, plain and simple," McDougall said.
Lisa Blackburn, who is also HRM deputy mayor, won with roughly 85 per cent of the votes in her district.
"It's extremely humbling," Blackburn said.
Blackburn's landslide win was part of a bigger breakthrough.
The HRM will now have eight female councillors serving at City Hall matching the eight male elected councillors.
"It's the first time that I'm aware of that there is gender parity on Halifax Regional Council," Blackburn says.
It's a giant progressive step forward, says Blackburn.
"This is something that I have been working for a long time," Blackburn says. "Getting more women and more women from diverse backgrounds was one of my goals."
That goal was achieved in the HRM and across the province on election night in historic fashion.
McDougall says, as far as she knows, there is no maternity leave mechanism available to her while serving as mayor. So that means she will be sworn into office in several days and then she will have a baby in several months, and then she will manage those aspects of her life while not taking off any time in her new job serving as mayor.
The McDougall household is about to get very busy.