Former journalist Stephen Andrew will fill the open seat on the City of Victoria council after winning Saturday’s byelection.
The municipality held the byelection to fill the spot after Laurel Collins had resigned her seat last year after winning a seat in the House of Commons for the federal New Democrats.
Unofficial results show Andrew with 6,937 votes, more than 3,000 votes ahead of second-placed Stefanie Hardman, who ran under the Together Victoria slate, the same slate that had helped to elect Collins, as well as current councillors Sharmarke Dubow and Sarah Potts.
Andrew, whose campaign had received the late endorsement of Coun. Geoff Young, promised to restore what he called “balance” to council in promising to stop the waste on city resources on issues outside municipal jurisdiction and work on things that benefit the community, listing public safety, affordable housing and taxation policy among other items.
Andrew had previously run for mayor in 2014 and council in 2018, losing the former bid against current Mayor Lisa Helps.
Andrew thanked his supporters Saturday with a message on Twitter.
My thanks again to everyone who supported and voted, and thank you to everyone in Victoria for your passion for this city.— Stephen Andrew (@Stephen_Andrew) December 13, 2020
I promise to lead with an open door, an open mind, and an open heart. My door is always open & I look forward to serving all of Victoria with honour! pic.twitter.com/rA14aukGwQ
“I promise to lead with an open door, an open mind, and an open heart,” he wrote. “My door is always open (and) I look forward to serving all of Victoria with honour!”
While Andrew’s election may not fundamentally change the balance of power on council, his election as well as his margin of victory over the second-placed Hardman suggests that the public wanted to send a corrective message as Andrew has been critical of Victoria’s decision to allow 24/7 camping for homeless individuals in parks during the pandemic, a source of public controversy and legal conflict with a focus on Victoria’s popular Beacon Hill Park.
Helps, for her part, issued a public statement Saturday in which she welcomed Andrew to council for the remaining two years of the term.
Turnout for the byelection was 17.52 per cent as 12,327 out of 70,343 registered voters cast their ballots several months after the municipality had initally scheduled the byelection.
Victoria had originally scheduled the byelection in April but postponed to Dec. 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nine other candidates ran alongside Andrew and Hardman, with Roshan Vickery winning the third-most votes with 603.
Black Press has reached out to Andrew for comment and will update this story.
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