“Our opponent has been successful,” Peter Armstrong, campaign chair of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), declared from a stage at the Hotel Vancouver as it became clear that Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson had trounced the NPA’s Suzanne Anton.
In the end, Robertson won by almost 20,000 votes, with 77,005 to Anton’s 58,152.
In fact, every Vision Vancouver candidate who ran in this election won their seat on city council, parks board and school board. The only question as the race wore on became who would oppose them.
Vision now holds seven of the 10 seats on Vancouver’s city council. The remaining three seats went to two NPA candidates (Elizabeth Ball and George Affleck) and Green Party candidate Adriane Carr, who bumped a third NPA candidate out of the 10th seat at the last minute, when the final votes were counted.
Lesbian COPE candidate Ellen Woodsworth lost her council seat, placing 11th in the standings, 91 votes behind Carr.
Gay Councillor Tim Stevenson easily kept his seat, placing fifth in the standings with Vision Vancouver.
>Gay NPA candidate Sean Bickerton, who wanted to see the Pride parade designated a civic event, did not win a seat. He placed 18th with 43,289 votes. He left the room as soon as the NPA candidates stepped offstage and has yet to make a promised call to Xtra.
“We did not achieve our objective,” Armstrong told the crowd, who booed.
Anton was gracious in defeat, calling Robertson to offer her congratulations as she left council.
“The voters made a clear choice,” Anton said, tears in her eyes, her family at her side.
She said it was hard being the only NPA councillor for the past three years but expressed hope that the new, more balanced council would provide for greater discussion of city issues in chambers.
>“This is much better for the democratic process,” she said. “We will be able to ask the questions that need to be asked.”
The loss of her mayoral bid means Anton will not return to council for a third term.
“It has been an honour and a privilege, and I am most grateful for it,” she told supporters.
The NPA also put three trustees on the Vancouver School Board: Sophia Woo, Fraser Ballantyne and incumbent Ken Denike.
Some NPA critics had expressed concern that Woo was somehow aligned with the Burnaby Parents’ Voice, which campaigned against that city’s new anti-homophobia policy passed in June.
Asked about it by Xtra, Woo was adamant that she supports Vancouver’s anti-homophobia policy.
“All students and teachers deserve a safe, respectful learning environment,” she said.
Burnaby voters shut Parents’ Voice out of their school board entirely, reelecting instead the Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA) that passed the anti-homophobia policy. In fact, the BCA won every single seat in their municipality.
Gay former NPA parks board candidate Ian Haywood-Farmer said the new mix on Vancouver council — seven Vision, two NPA and one Green — is good for the city.
“Unfortunately for COPE, I guess the people of Vancouver decided they wanted some check and balance, and they chose the NPA,” Haywood-Farmer said. “There were some good people that lost. Not everyone can win.”
NPA headquarters began to fill 15 minutes after polls closed at 8pm. Armstrong initially took the podium to announce, “We’re really excited.”
NPA members snacked on roast beef and cheese and sipped wine as they awaited the results.
A cheer went up as the first reported results of the evening showed Anton with a 500-vote lead over Robertson. That soon swung toward an almost 2,700-vote lead for Robertson.
“It’s up and down. The numbers are crazy,” council candidate George Affleck said.
Early in the evening, Darrell “Saxmaniac” Zimmerman, the candidate who interrupted Anton and Robertson’s mayoral debate by yelling and waving a stuffed lobster toy, meandered through the room with his lobster.
The room grew quiet, people huddled around televisions, as Robertson’s lead continued to grow with one quarter of polling divisions reporting at 9:15pm.
As the council began to swing from a split between the NPA and Vision to a Vision majority, the room continued to buzz, but the cheers of earlier were absent.