Jyoti Gondek ready to win, will be Calgary’s first female mayor – .

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Jyoti Gondek ready to win, will be Calgary’s first female mayor – .


The elected mayor’s political rise began in 2017, when she was part of a group of four newcomers to city council

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Jyoti Gondek emerged from the rubble of an acrimonious campaign Monday night to become the first woman elected mayor in Calgary’s history.

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Gondek, 52, will take the mayor’s seat after a fierce fight to replace Mayor Naheed Nenshi after his 11 years in power. While the race ultimately narrowed down to five top contenders, there were 27 mayoral candidates in total.

When Gondek took the stage, she vowed to lead with “courage, conviction and humility,” and said it was her late father’s “unfinished community service” that led her to do the same.

“Your new council will come together around a common vision that will make us more resilient as a city,” she said. “We will remain accountable to all of you. “

Gondek’s husband prepared his victory speech to a small group of supporters and volunteers at headquarters, and their child read a poem dedicated to him.

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“Jyoti, a little flame. To understand a woman, examine her soul. Do you see the flame of courage in its steel cage? “

The elected mayor’s political rise began in 2017, when she was part of a group of four newcomers to city council. As a representative of the north-center of Ward 3, she was also the only woman of color around the council horseshoe.

On Monday, she beat two of her fellow first-term councilors, Jeff Davison and Jeromy Farkas, for the mayoral seat.

As for being the first female mayor in the city’s history, Gondek was neutral.

“This means we have normalized that women and people of color should be in leadership positions,” she said.

“It took a while, but we got there. “

Gondek announced his run for mayor in January and has campaigned for more than nine months. She positions herself as a committed centrist, but Farkas and Davison attacked her as part of the “far left”.

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Davison congratulated Gondek on his victory on Twitter Monday night, saying he “would pledge to fully support her.”

A poll taken just over a week before Monday’s vote showed Gondek was statistically tied with compatriot Farkas. Farkas then issued an open letter urging supporters of mayoral candidates Jeff Davison and Brad Field to vote instead “strategically” for him, a move some political observers have called “desperate.”

Field and Jan Damery rounded out the most popular mayoral candidates – their unofficial results show them only a fraction of the support compared to the first and second.

Gondek was born in the UK to a family of Indian descent, and they moved to Canada when she was young, settling in Manitoba. She then moved to Calgary with her husband, where she worked in marketing, ran a consulting firm and was director of the Westman Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary. She holds a doctorate in urban sociology and served on the Calgary Planning Commission before running for office.

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Mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek and her family arrive at Captain Nichola Goddard School to vote on municipal election day in Calgary on Monday, October 18, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

In council, Gondek has earned a reputation for speaking her mind and fiercely defending her parish’s priorities. His campaign focused on promoting property tax reform and promoting Calgary as a “center of excellence” for an economy in transition.

She said the success of her campaign comes down to its openness.

“It was the ability to listen to Calgarians and answer all of those questions. I have had hundreds of (virtual) cafes. I have never hesitated to answer a question; I have never hesitated to listen to people.

A small group of supporters and volunteers gathered around his campaign office as the votes poured in. The campaign opted for a smaller-scale rally on election night due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, more than 100 Farkas supporters gathered at the Gasoline Alley Museum, where the mayoral candidate arrived shortly after 9 p.m. and conceded the race to Gondek.

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Farkas said it was time for Calgarians to come together to tackle the challenges and opportunities facing the city and to make the most of them.

“I have certainly heard a lot of desire for change,” said Farkas. “I’ve heard a lot about responsible spending, I’ve heard a lot about municipal council secrecy. And I think it will be up to the next mayor and the next council to sort out these issues. “

Calgary-born Farkas, a fiscal conservative with a populist twist, has been a deeply polarizing figure at City Hall, frequently angering his colleagues with his bold and at times abrasive policies on issues such as council salaries. , taxes and the police.

The 35-year-old is said to be the city’s first openly LGBTQ board member and was the first candidate to officially announce his intention to run for mayor in 2021, after months of speculation.

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Mayoral candidate Jeromy Farkas arrives to vote at John Ware School in Calgary on Monday, October 18, 2021. Jim Wells/Postmédia

Farkas has mounted a disciplined campaign promising a four-year tax freeze and tight spending controls, but his message has at times been derailed by problems of his own – including an uncontroversial vote last month on the city by-law on the vaccination passport.

Ward 11 councilor has also been criticized for comments he made recently, accusing city staff of “skimming” money from a city fund made up of developer taxes. His opponents said the accusations were just the latest in a long line of misinformation from the controversial adviser.

But the most frequent criticism leveled at Farkas during the sometimes acrimonious campaign was skepticism that he would be able to unite the council as mayor after four years of voting “no” more than any other councilor.

On Monday evening, Farkas said he was proud to have helped ensure Calgarians “have a voice” in city hall on issues such as the Olympic bid and his role as a fiscal hawk on the council:

“I like to think that I served as a sober second reflection on many of the spending decisions made by the board. “

The election results will not be finalized until October 22.

[email protected]
Twitter: @meksmith

[email protected]
Twitter: @mpotkins

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