The women elected to Halifax regional council on Saturday. Top row, from left: Cathy Deagle-Gammon, Becky Kent, Trish Purdy, and Kathryn Morse. Bottom row, from left: Iona Stoddard, Pamela Lovelace, and Deputy Mayor Lisa Blackburn.

Just two years after guys named Steve outnumbered women on regional council, Haligonians have opted for near gender parity.

At least seven women were elected to serve as councillors in Halifax Regional Municipality for the next four years, according to unofficial election results tallied Saturday night.

Just after 11 p.m., Halifax announced it wouldn’t be publishing any more results Saturday night, with six districts and the mayoral race left incomplete.

“There is a manual check occurring to ensure that all tables are being reported,” municipal spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray wrote in an email just after midnight.*

“Tables will be updated tomorrow with final unofficial results.”

An eighth woman was leading when results stopped pouring in Saturday night, but the race was too close to call.

In District 11 — Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Road, Patty Cuttell was leading with 1,634 votes, with Bruce Holland just 29 votes behind her with 1,605.

“What a night! We know we’re ahead by 29 votes, results will continue to come in tomorrow,” Cuttell tweeted. “Thank you to everyone for your support. Stay tuned.”

Results in all but that one district were clear, and two of the women elected beat incumbents.

In District 12 — Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park-Wedgewood, Iona Stoddard beat Coun. Richard Zurawski. With three of 29 tables still left to report, Stoddard was leading Zurawski 2,901 to 2,485 — a difference of 416 votes.

“It feels amazing,” Stoddard told the Halifax Examiner in an interview Saturday night.

“I think the people have spoken and they want change.”

Iona Stoddard in the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area. Photo: Facebook

Stoddard also becomes the first Black woman elected to council at least since amalgamation in 1996 — and likely the first ever in Halifax. With Coun. Lindell Smith winning a second term in District 8 — Halifax Peninsula North, there will now be two Black people on council.

“I think it’s past due,” Stoddard said. “I’m so happy. I’m so happy that after the first one, it’ll be easier for the second one.”

And in District 1 — Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley, Cathy Deagle-Gammon beat Coun. Steve Streatch by just 74 votes, with a total of 3,068, or 42.4%, unofficially.

In District 3 — Dartmouth South-Eastern Passage, former MLA and councillor Becky Kent will take over from Coun. Bill Karsten. According to unofficial results, Kent received 4,294 votes — 43.4%. Kent was the councillor for the old District 8 Woodside-Eastern Passage from 2004-2008, before the districts were redrawn in 2012.

A sign in front of a polling station in Dartmouth on Election Day in Halifax Regional Municipality, Oct. 17, 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

In District 10 — Halifax-Bedford Basin West, Kathryn Morse will take Coun. Russell Walker’s place. Morse was winning with 1,924 votes, adding up to 27.5% in a field of eight candidates, with one of 26 tables left to report.

With Coun. Matt Whitman running for mayor, Pam Lovelace was leading District 13 — Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets with 3,322 votes — 36.3% in a field of nine candidates — with just one of 24 tables left to report.

Representation in District 4 — Cole Harbour-Westphal will remain female, with Trish Purdy set to take over from Coun. Lorelei Nicoll. Purdy won a 12-way race with 1,634 — 19.7% — according to unofficial results.

And Deputy Mayor Lisa Blackburn handily won a second term in District 14 — Middle/Upper Sackville-Beaver Bank-Lucasville. Blackburn was leading with 4,898 votes — 85.1% — with one of 24 tables left to report.

Mayor Mike Savage removes his mask as he approaches the podium at his re-election campaign launch at Africville Park in Halifax in September. — Photo: Zane Woodford

In the least surprising news of the night, Mayor Mike Savage will serve a third term. Savage was well ahead with 102,369 votes, — 80.2%. Whitman was holding on for second place with 13,380 votes, or 10.5%, while Max Taylor had brought in 11,855 votes. There were still nine tables left to report.

Other incumbents returning to council are:

  • Coun. David Hendsbee in District 2 — Preston–Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore (leading with 4,294 votes, 51%, with three of 33 tables left to report)
  • Coun. Sam Austin in District 5 — Dartmouth Centre (7,769 votes, 82.1%)
  • Coun. Tony Mancini in District 6 — Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East (5,629 votes, 79.7%)
  • Coun. Waye Mason in District 7 — Halifax South Downtown (3,728 votes, 62.1%)
  • Coun. Lindell Smith in District 8 — Halifax Peninsula North (5,779 votes, 67.9%)
  • Coun. Shawn Cleary in District 9 — Halifax West-Armdale (3,855 votes, 41.8%)
  • Coun. Paul Russell in District 15 — Lower Sackville (2,901 votes, 51.6%)
  • Coun. Tim Outhit in District 16 — Bedford-Wentworth (acclaimed)

As for voter turnout, it was higher than 2016’s 31.77% — but the municipality won’t be releasing its official numbers until later this week.

Spray said Saturday night there are “roughly” 321,783 eligible voters in Halifax Regional Municipality.

Using that number and the unofficial results, overall turnout was at least 39.7%.

That’s the highest turnout since 2012, at 41.48%, and the final number could be higher given there were still tables left to report.

The new Halifax regional council will be sworn in on Oct. 29.

Until then, Steves and women on council remain tied at two.

*This article was updated to provide further explanation for the delay in reporting results from Halifax Regional Municipality.

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Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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