Between celebrity endorsements, candidate missteps and the unseating of Saskatoon’s longest-running mayor – the 2016 civic election was one to remember.
The mayor’s race was a hard-fought battle between four – some say three – candidates, one of whom added dramatic flair before a dismal finish. Meanwhile voters made history electing six women to city council, making for a first-ever female majority.
It was difficult choosing just five memorable moments, but here’s our picks for the 2016 election.
Clark’s comeback, Moore’s defeat
When mayor-elect Charlie Clark officially announced his bid on May 18, many saw him as the one to beat the city’s longest-running top official, Don Atchison.
But the former Ward 6 councillor wasn’t Atchison’s only competition: former mayor Henry Dayday came and went, Devon Hein became an unexpected surprise – for reasons we outline further in this list – and urban planner Kelley Moore showed up to win.
The race quickly turned into a three-way battle: Clark notably the steadfast third – until Moore crumbled over a cookie jar.
Her campaign posted a link on the last Friday of the campaign to Facebook with the tagline, “It turns out Charlie Clark and Don Atchison have had their hands in the public cookie jar for years!”
Moore later apologized that afternoon in a statement released by her campaign.
“We acknowledge that it could be taken out of context to imply dishonesty by the incumbent mayoralty candidates,” it read. “This was not our intention, the post has been edited and Kelley Moore unreservedly apologizes.”
Whether it was indeed the cookie comment that bit into Moore’s numbers, no one knows for sure. But a Mainstreet/Postmedia poll in the days following saw Atchison’s lead widen and Moore dip to third – not that it mattered, since Clark won in the only poll that counts.
His comeback was also, jokingly, credited by some voters online to the “Galifianakis effect.”
Wednesday morning a celebrity endorsement came in for Clark from comedian Zach Galifianakis, who is married to the mayor-elect’s cousin, and the video speaks for itself:
Convicted sex offender drops out, runs again for school trustee
It was arguably the biggest singular news story of the 2016 election – for all the wrong reasons.
On Oct. 17, it came to light convicted sex offender Denis Hall was running in the Catholic school board race. It wasn’t his first time either, he also ran in 2003.
Spoiler: He didn’t win – not then, not now.
Hall pleaded guilty in 1981 to two charges of having intercourse with girls aged 14-16, as well as two counts of indecent assault.
He was sentenced to 18 months in jail and released in June 1982. One of the girls, who became pregnant, sued him and received a $3,500 settlement after she signed not to pursue further legal action.
Hall came in dead last, with 1,974 votes.
Devon Hein: We hardly knew ye
Regardless, Hein found ways to make his presence known.
People in Saskatoon soon learned the man with a penchant for windbreakers and calling out city spending was running under a different name. Devon is better known by his given name, Kurtis; which is also the only way to find him in the Hilltops hall of fame.
Hein went on to showcase his Photoshop skills by altering Twitter pictures of voters at booths to include text supporting Hein. Yeah, that didn’t go over well.
In his feature on Candidate’s Row, Hein told 650 CKOM he believed the Lighthouse, a downtown shelter, was a place for “organized crime” with people “sort of using it as a base at times and things like that.”
The bizarre behaviour continued when Hein attended the final mayoral forum broadcast live on 650 CKOM and CTV. He made disparaging remarks against local media before taking off his mic early, and leaving.
Hein earned 548 votes – notably less than convicted sex offender turned school board candidate, Denis Hall.
Who run the ward?
Women – and people best take note.
The fierce female power emanating from Wednesday’s election results could be felt in every corner of city hall and online, with people collectively rejoicing on Twitter and Facebook.
A younger and more gender balanced council. Nice to see this! https://t.co/rZgXUGWPkU
— Melissa Hildebrandt (@MelloHill) October 27, 2016
I’m so happy and I don’t even live there https://t.co/NojMHwgTyj
— adriennejackson (@adriennejackson) October 27, 2016
With six women elected to seats, Saskatoon sees its first majority female council.
When Ward 2 newcomer Hilary Gough unseated long-time incumbent Pat Lorje, the veteran politician proved she was a class act by honouring the awesomeness of the bigger picture.
“I wish to congratulate Hilary Gough on her victory this evening. You have my strong encouragement to continue what we have started here (in Ward 2),” Lorje said.
“We now have a record number of women on council and I think that’s a very, very good thing. We’ve certainly moved the dial a lot since I was first elected in 1979.”
The majority is even more notable considering there were 12 women running – for mayor and council combined – out of 40 candidates.
Those elected include Hilary Gough, Ward 2; Ann Iwanchuk, Ward 3; Cynthia Block, Ward 6, Mairin Loewen, Ward 7; Sarina Gersher, Ward 8; and Bev Dubois, Ward 9.
— 650 CKOM (@CKOMNews) October 27, 2016
Long line to the finish
We round out our memorable moments of the campaign with what happened in its dying hours.
Voters arrived to some polling stations around dinnertime and settled into lines with wait times of an hour or more.
While the last-minute rush delayed results by more than an hour, it was a reflection of increased civic engagement.
— JT Marshall (@jtmarshallCKOM) October 27, 2016
Around 40 per cent of eligible voters showed up to polls, up slightly from 37 per cent in 2012.
The unofficial numbers, as of Thursday, show 80,012 of Saskatoon’s 200,228 eligible voters cast ballots in advanced polls and on election day.
Daniella Ponticelli is the senior web editor for 650 CKOM. She’s enjoyed following the 2016 civic election and hopes people will share their favourite moments of the election below.