Change could be in store for Ward Anirniq residents with newcomer Erin Rutherford leading in the polls ahead of incumbent Bev Esslinger late into the night after voters cast their ballots in Monday’s election.
A clear winner had not emerged as of midnight Tuesday, but Rutherford edged ahead of Esslinger in the tight race by just 308 votes with three polls outstanding and no further results expected from the city until daybreak. With 21 out of 24 polls reporting, Rutherford and Esslinger had 26.24 per cent and 24.49 per cent of the votes, respectively. Tyler Zutz was in third place at 22.03 per cent followed by Ali Haymour in fourth at 20.18 per cent. Mark Davies placed a distant fifth with 7.06 per cent of the ballots cast in his favour.
Speaking to Postmedia Monday evening, Rutherford said the experience was surreal. She said she felt overwhelmed as it began to look like a win was within her grasp.
“Based on the information that I have I’m feeling pretty hopeful and optimistic,” she said. “It was always (going to be) a challenge going up against an incumbent … but once we started knocking on the doors, once we started talking to folks, once we started getting a sense of the vibe in Anirniq, I soon realized how ready for change the ward was.”
Esslinger declined to comment until the results were firmed up. In a tweet around 11 p.m. Monday, Esslinger said it was too close too call.
“What is very encouraging to see is the number of women candidates leading or emerging victorious,” she wrote. “We are on track to have more female Councillors than ever before … I’m looking forward to seeing this kind of unprecedented representation and diversity on Council.”
Rutherford aimed to capture the progressive vote, also promising to advocate for a north LRT expansion and addressing concerns with the bus network redesign.
Esslinger’s rivals challenged her record on engagement with Ward 2 voters, each promising to do more to interact with, consult and listen to residents. Community safety and finance were other key issues in the ward.