Winning women: Record number of women elected in N.S. municipal elections
HALIFAX -- History was made in the Maritimes over the weekend.
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality elected its first female mayor on Saturday, while the Halifax Regional Municipality voted in a record number of female councillors during the latest round of municipal elections in Nova Scotia.
While there’s still work to be done when it comes to equality and women in politics, these latest results are a step in the right direction.
When voters in Halifax’s District 12 went to the polls, Iona Stoddard had a hunch things would be different this time around.
“They want diversity,” said Stoddard. “Council should represent the people. I feel it is reflecting what the city is all about.”
She was right, making history by defeating District 12 incumbent Richard Zurawski to become the municipality's first Black female councillor.
“It means I have opened a door for women of colour, Indigenous women to have a seat on council,” says Stoddard.
Stoddard is one of a record eight women elected to Halifax council, creating gender parity for the first time.
Another woman who bested an incumbent was Cathy Deagle Gammon, topping veteran councillor Steve Streatch in District 1.
Also winning was Becky Kent in District 3, Trish Purdy in District 4, Kathryn Morse in District 10, Pam Lovelace in District 13, and incumbent and HRM Deputy Mayor Lisa Blackburn, who was re-elected in District 14, winning roughly 85 per cent of the votes.
“It’s extremely humbling,” says Blackburn. “It’s the first time that I’m aware of that there is gender parity on Halifax Regional Council."
Blackburn says that’s a giant progressive step forward.
“This is something that I have been working for for a long time, getting more women and more women from diverse backgrounds was one of my goals,” says Blackburn.
In Cape Breton, Amanda McDougall didn’t expect to win when she first decided to run for mayor of the CBRM.
“And if I did, I thought it was going to be a real squeaker,” says McDougall.
On Saturday night, she pulled off a decisive upset victory, defeating incumbent mayor Cecil Clarke by nearly 4,000 votes.
McDougall says the result was overwhelming.
“I had to look at the numbers a couple of times, because I wasn’t ready to see such a strong finish. I was so proud,” says McDougall. “They want to change, plain and simple.”
McDougall, who is seven months pregnant, says she doesn’t plan on taking any maternity leave in her new role as mayor.