Voters gave Mike Savage a second term as Halifax’s mayor, handing him a sweeping victory over local restaurant owner Lil MacPherson in Saturday’s municipal elections.
“The thing that excites me the most is what we can do on diversity and inclusion in Halifax. Becoming a different city, a more diverse city, and really having people understand that it’s to everyone’s benefit,” said Savage.
By late Saturday, with most ballots counted, Savage had earned almost 70 per cent of the votes cast.
In the seven-way contest for District 8 (Peninsula North), North End community organizer Lindell Smith took more than 50 per cent of the vote. His closest runner-up was former councillor Patrick Murphy, with 16.9 per cent.
Smith grew up in Uniacke Square and campaigned on promises to bring diversity and equality issues to council.
“We worked hard,” he said after the victory. “I knocked on thousands of doors, and my thoughts tonight were, no matter the outcome, that we made a difference. We started a conversation that was needed.”
Starting work as a councillor will be “a huge learning curve,” Smith added, “but it’s just about the support and not being afraid to ask questions. And I’m going to ask lots of questions.”
Local media portrayed District 8 as a “war,” with Smith and Brenden Sommerhalder as the frontrunners. Sommerhalder, director of marketing for the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, ended up in third place, with 11.6 per cent of the vote.
The two candidates maintained positive relations throughout the campaign, with Sommerhalder stopping by Smith’s headquarters Saturday evening to congratulate the new councillor.
Peninsula North was not the only closely watched district on election night.
District 9 (Halifax West- Armdale) was nearly tied, with Mount Saint Vincent University professor Shawn Cleary leading incumbent Linda Mosher by just two votes late Saturday, with some ballots still to be counted.
District 10 (Bedford Basin West) faced almost as tight a race, with incumbent Russell Walker squeaking past Halifax Public Libraries employee Andrew Curran by only 15 votes.
Recounts could likely be called in both districts.
District 7 (Halifax South-Downtown) incumbent Waye Mason held onto his seat, with 61.6 per cent of the vote. Mason defeated former councillor Sue Uteck and Cineplex theatre manager Dominick Desjardins.
With files from Jessica Caparini.