‘A little bit surreal’: Winnipeg’s mayor-elect ready to get to work

Now that the dust has settled on Wednesday night’s municipal election, Winnipeg’s new mayor-elect says he’s still getting used to the feeling.

“It’s still a little bit surreal, but it feels really, really good,” Scott Gillingham said Thursday morning at City Hall.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity and so I’m feeling really good today.”

Gillingham, former councillor for the St. James ward, defeated Glen Murray as well as nine other candidates in a down-to-the-wire race for the city’s top job.

The mayor-elect said he thinks his credibility with the voters, something he takes pride in, helped put him over the top.

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“I think we see the vote was very split last night and I acknowledge that, but I believe it was because of the platform that I had… and being able to communicate to the residents of Winnipeg — here’s the plan, here’s how much it’s going to cost, and here’s how we’re going to pay for it.

“We were confident that we had worked really hard. Our team had a sense of the numbers so we didn’t panic at all. We just let the night play out.”

According to the unofficial results Thursday, Gillingham got the votes of 53,663 Winnipeggers — good for a 27.54 per cent share. That helped him edge out Murray, with 49,272 votes and 25.29 per cent.

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Read more: Scott Gillingham elected as next mayor of Winnipeg

Click to play video: 'Markus Chambers on Winnipeg election results'

Markus Chambers on Winnipeg election results

When he officially moves upstairs to the mayor’s office on Tuesday, Gillingham said his leadership style is a collaborative one, and he wants to ensure all 15 city councillors have a voice at the table.

That ability to unite people is why Coun. Markus Chambers, re-elected by acclamation in the St. Norbert-Seine River ward, says he endorsed Gillingham’s run for mayor.

“I’m extremely happy. I saw him put in the work needed to become mayor so proud of the effort that he put forward… and I think it bodes well for the city of Winnipeg that he’ll be able to unite the city as we move forward,” Chambers said.

“He works very collaboratively with us as city councillors. That’s been my experience. I know that as mayor he’s going to have that same work ethic in terms of uniting all of us and the collective voices of all of those people that we represent.”

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Read more: Meet Winnipeg’s 2022 city council

Curtis Brown of Probe Research also mentioned Gillingham’s reputation as a unifier, and said that’s what voters should expect as he begins his mayoralty.

“He’s just kind of seen as being a solid, not flashy personality who works with people and tries to be concilaitory and tries to bring people together,” Brown said.

“I think that’s what people are probably expecting in terms of his mayoralty. I don’t think they’re expecting any great big wild ideas or drama or anything like that… just solid, stay-the-course sort of stuff.”

The mayor-elect’s years of experience at City Hall should also come in handy, the pollster said.

“He’s going to come in, and there’s obviously going to be a learning curve when you’re the mayor — but I think the learning curve is going to be a little less steep for him, just because he has been so involved in city decision-making over the last few years.”

Click to play video: 'Political scientist Chris Adams on Winnipeg election results'

Political scientist Chris Adams on Winnipeg election results

According to political scientist Chris Adams of the University of Manitoba, Gillingham was likely seen by many Winnipeggers as the ‘safe’ vote in a wide-open race for mayor.

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“It was an evening where mostly incumbents got in and that’s a pattern in city politics,” Adams said.

“We also know that suburban voters supported him more strongly than inner-city voters and it was the opposite for Glen Murray, so it was an interesting evening. And it went right down to the wire.”

Murray, initially seen as the clear frontrunner in the race, was hampered by allegations of sexual assault that surfaced, dating back to an executive position he held in Alberta.

Adams said, however, that Murray may also have seen his support drop over time as voters became more familiar with the rest of the field.

“In this election, he had name recognition right from the beginning, but as the election went on people started to know the contenders, know the names… so time was working against him.”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg civic election: Glen Murray address his supporters after loss'

Winnipeg civic election: Glen Murray address his supporters after loss

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