How the tightly contested races in Anirniq, Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi played out on election night
When Edmonton's municipal election came to a close Monday night, there were two races still too close to call.
“It’s kind of like waiting for Santa Claus to come in the form of a trick-or-treat because you don’t know if you’ll be successful or not,” Bev Esslinger, outgoing councillor for Ward Arnirniq, laughed.
It was early Tuesday morning that Erin Rutherford got word that she had ousted the incumbent Esslinger by just 273 votes.
“I just felt overwhelmingly excited, optimistic, hopeful and really, really supported by the voters of Edmonton and my volunteers,” Rutherford recalled.
“You don’t run four or five months and give it your all and think you’re not going to be successful,” Esslinger told CTV News Edmonton.
It was bittersweet for Esslinger who just eight years ago was the only woman on city council,and while she’s not headed back to city hall, she feels like she’s paved the way for more women to make headway in politics.
“Eight years later there’s eight women on city council and as much as I would love to be with them, to feel that, I’m just very proud that we have that many that stepped up and will continue the work,” she said.
“I’m very excited for the young fresh female faces that will be there, as well as having a leader that will help us move forward,” Rutherford added.
While Arnirniq will have new leadership, Rutherford said she and Esslinger have a lot of similar passions and will continue to “carry that torch” with some new energy and new ideas.
The other tightly contested ward was Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi — separating two of the candidates by a few dozen votes as of Tuesday.
Jennifer Rice won against Rhiannon Hoyle by 33 votes, which might trigger a recount.
“We felt very strong to the very end,” Hoyle said.
When the energy in the room started dying down late into the night, Hoyle said she jumped into action and “cracked open the bubbly,” turned up the music and her team started sharing stories of their “amazing campaign.”
“Even though it was a very intense evening, it was an evening full of love and positivity as a good campaign should be. We trust the process.”
Rice didn’t get ahead of herself Monday night, waiting until the bitter end to hear if she would stay ahead of Hoyle in the polls.
“I’m not a career politician,” she said. “But, I do believe I have ability, I have passion and I have a skillset that can serve our city council very well and bring a different perspective to move our city towards where most people want to be.”
Rice had campaigned on a promise to improve city services without the burden being placed on taxpayers. She said it was the biggest complaint she heard while out door knocking.
“I do believe it’s time for me to give back to our wonderful city and our wonderful community.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Ryan Harding