About Election Night…

The ballots are counted, the verdict is in — and it’s time to wonk-out with the numbers from Saturday’s municipal election in the CBRM!

Amanda McDougall won the CBRM mayor’s race on Saturday, with 47.4% of the overall vote (24,319 votes). McDougall carried nine districts — 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12, claiming over 50% of ballots cast in Districts 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 12. Her best performance was in District 8 (which she represented on council for a term) where she claimed 60% of the vote.

Cecil Clarke won three of 12 districts — 1, 2 and 11. His share of the overall vote was 40.6% (20,789 votes) and his best performance was in his home district — District 1 — where he garnered 45.2% of ballots cast.

How did this compare to his 2016 totals? That year, with only two candidates on the ballot, he took 51.3% (22,240 votes) to Rankin MacSween’s 48.2% (20,909), winning Districts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

In 2012, with five candidates on the ballot, Clarke took 58.4% of the vote (27,609 votes) — his closest rival, MacSween, took 37.6% (17,787 votes). Clarke won every district that year with one exception — District 11.

Here’s the comparison in terms of voter turnout:

2020

Eligible voters: 81,833

Participation: 62.6%

2016

Eligible voters: 81,378

Participation: 53.3%

2012

I couldn’t find the number of eligible voters in 2012, so can tell you only that 47,296 voters cast ballots in the mayoral race that year.)

Archie MacKinnon’s best showing in terms of vote percentage was in District 1, where he lives, and where he captured a whopping 24% (1,067 votes) of ballots cast, but his next-best result was District 3 where he carried only 6.1%. Overall, he achieved 6.7%, which is half the vote share he managed in the last federal election when he captured 14% (5,679) in Sydney-Victoria.

John Strasser carried 2.7% of the overall vote. His best performance was in his native Whitney Pier, where he took 4.9% of ballots cast.

Chris Abbass claimed 1.4% of the vote overall. His best showings were in Districts 9, 11 and 12 where he managed 1.9%.

Kevin MacEachern took 0.8% of the overall vote. His percentage hardly varied by district at all — his biggest share was 1.2% in District 5, where he lives and owns businesses.

 

Council

Unless you’ve been on a bender since the polls closed Saturday night, you probably know who won the district races, but I will run down the list just in case, beginning with incumbents who won:

District 2 Earlene MacMullin

District 4 Steve Gillespie

District 5 Eldon MacDonald

District 10 Darren Bruckschwaiger

Bruckschwaiger, facing one challenger, walked away with it, taking 80.3% of the vote. Gillespie (who faced two challengers) and MacMullin (who faced one) also won comfortably, carrying 67.5% and 67.2%, respectively. MacDonald, up against five opponents, won with 38% of the vote.

Two incumbents lost.

Esmond “Blue” Marshall in District 3 fell to Cyril MacDonald, who took 55.7% of the vote to Marshall’s 32.4%. (Marshall’s absolute vote was almost unchanged from 1,189 in 2016, when he faced five opponents, to 1,221 this year, when he faced three. Voter participation was slightly higher this year.)

Ivan Doncaster was defeated in District 7, which featured a tight race between four candidates. Steve Parsons prevailed, with 30% of ballots cast, but Doncaster carried 25.5%, Adam Young took 24% and Kevin Hardy took 20%. Voter participation in District 7 was up 24.2% this year, with 4,026 ballots cast compared to 3,242 in 2016.

The six districts where no incumbent re-offered looked like this:

Gordon MacDonald carried District one with 31.7% of the vote. His closest rival in the field of five, Danny Laffin, took 25.2%.

Glenn Paruch defeated four rivals to take District 6, long held by his late father Ray. It wasn’t a coronation, though — Paruch took 33.2% of the vote to Barbara Beaton’s 29.1% and Todd Riley’s 27.5%. Voter participation was up 21.8% compared to 2016.

James Edwards won a pretty resounding victory in District 8, defeating two rivals and claiming 56.4% of the vote.

Likewise, Kenny Tracey won convincingly in District 9 with 63% of the vote. (He also faced two opponents.) Voter turnout was up 20% in District 9.

Darren O’Quinn emerged victorious from the crowded District 11 race, prevailing over seven opponents with 29.1% of the vote. His closest rival, Johnny Miles, took 24.3%. Voter turnout was up 22.3% compared to 2016.

Lorne Green squeaked by Kim Sheppard in the District 12, winning by 56 votes, the kind of result that might have triggered a recount in another year, but not this one, because recounts aren’t possible with an all-electronic election. Green claimed 34% of the vote to Sheppard’s 32.5%. Turnout in District 12 was up an impressive 30% over 2016.

 

Spectator bump?

Of the 13 victorious candidates, eight — 61.5% — responded to the Spectator‘s pre-election questionnaire. I don’t actually believe this had anything to do with their victories (let’s keep it real, a number who responded lost and four who didn’t won) but I do think it bodes well for my ability to cover this new council.

We’re nowhere near gender parity. Unlike Halifax Regional council, which achieved it this time out, we’ve taken a step back, electing only two women this year, compared to three in 2016. But one of those women is the mayor, the first in the 25-year history of the municipality.

No, let’s go further — McDougall is the first woman mayor in the history of the eight municipalities that formed the CBRM in 1995. Search the archives with a fine-tooth comb and you won’t find a woman running Sydney, Glace Bay, North Sydney, New Waterford, Sydney Mines, Dominion, Louisburg or the County of Cape Breton.

So simply by being elected, McDougall has wrought change in this municipality.

But it remains to be seen if things will really change — if she can deliver on campaign promises of greater transparency and public involvement in decision-making, for example. As a loud-mouthed advocate for both these past four years, I don’t think it will surprise you to hear that I really hope she can.

It will be interesting to see who funded McDougall’s victory. It will be interesting to see who funded Chris Abbass’ defeat (I’m particularly curious about this one given the flurry of expensive TV ads he ran.) It will be interesting to see what the dynamic of the new council will be and whether bidding adieu to some members who’d been in office since amalgamation or shortly thereafter will change things. (Mind you, voters kept one member of the Class of ’97 — Bruckschwaiger — and brought another — District 12 Councilor-elect Lorne Green — back.) It will be interesting to have a 27-year-old on council.

In short, it’s going to be interesting.

I’ll take that.