It was an emotional night in Ward 25 Don Valley West when Jaye Robinson beat out incumbent Cliff Jenkins to take the council seat.
Robinson won with 9,258 votes, or 45.49 percent, beating two-term incumbent Cliff Jenkins, who picked up 8,756 votes for 43 percent.
But the win has been bittersweet for Robinson.
“I am ecstatic. That’s the only way to describe it,” the 48-year-old mother of three said days after her victory. “The room was electric that night.”
On election night, Robinson was in tears as Jenkins came to offer her congratulations on her win.
“He came and conceded. It’s amazing to win but it’s hard when someone loses. That’s how democracy works,” said Robinson, who was a senior manager with the city’s economic development for two decades. “I want to thank Councillor Cliff Jenkins for his service over the last seven years. Councillor Jenkins ran a great campaign.”
Indeed on election night, the mood was more somber at Cliff Jenkins’ party at the Miller Tavern. Looking disappointed, Jenkins made an at-times emotional speech to his crowd of supporters, which included his mom, wife and sons.
It’s been a fantastic time working with and for you in city council over these seven years,” he said.
Gracious in defeat, Jenkins also congratulated Robinson for running a vigorous campaign.
“I know there are a lot of people that have depended on me, and a lot of people that will now need to depend on Jaye, and if I can help them develop a relationship with her now, I will do that.”
Terry West, president of a Don Mills area ratepayers’ association said residents are sad to see Jenkins go but eager to work with their new rep Robinson.
“I hope she will be as a good a councillor as Cliff Jenkins. He was tremendous,” West said. “(Jenkins) will be missed, a lot of people have said so.”
The fact Robinson has been vice president of the Lawrence Park Ratepayers’ Association means she know about planning issues, said West, and she comes into the job armed with municipal experience.
“There was a person who commented that we’ve had two excellent councillors in Joanne Flint and Cliff Jenkins who lived in North York,” West added. “They were North York people and Jaye is from Lawrence and Yonge (area), which is part of the old city. Whether that makes a difference, I don’t know.”
On her website she indicates her family roots in Don Valley date back to the 1900s when her great grandfather settled in the Hoggs Hollow area.
Jenkins and Robinson first faced off for a council seat in 2003 when there was no incumbent. He won with 80 votes over her in that battle.
Robinson said she’s wanted to be in politics since the pre-amalgamation days when she was on staff in the old city of North York.
As a city manager, she helped head up big projects Nuit Blanche, worked with many charities and won several awards for her work.
She says she’s ready to work collaboratively with the other 43 councillors and mayor.
“Canvassing every day for five months at the doors I heard loud and clear: ‘End the petty bickering and take action on issues facing the city and community’,” she said.
She’s getting help from Jenkin’s staff and plans to meet with him to make the transition a smooth one.
Once in office Robinson wants to focus on taxes, transit and traffic. She also wants to have more community hubs as gathering places for ward residents.
“I’m most excited to work on community development initiatives. I want to promote and preserve neighbourhoods.”
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