Jaye Robinson is now councillor for a ward almost twice as large as the ward she previously represented.
And Jon Burnside is out as councillor, despite retaining the support of voters in the area he has represented for the past four years.
Such are the vagaries of municipal politics in one of the most confusing election campaigns the city — and Don Valley West — has ever seen.
“It’s been a nail-biter the last three months,” Robinson told media at her victory part last night at the Uptown Pub on Yonge Street north of Lawrence Avenue. “We didn’t know the outcome.”
In her victory speech she told supporters: “Since July 26 my stomach has been in my throat.”
She opened her speech with “I can’t believe this!” punctuated with a wild fist pump and a cry of something that got lost in the roar from the crowd.
“Sometimes in life you don’t know how much you love something until you almost lose it,” she continued.
In the end, she won with a margin of less than 1,800 votes, receiving 16,219 votes compared to Burnside’s 14,440 tally.
She attributed her victory to voters recognizing her experience and her track record of hard work on both local and citywide issues.
In reply to media questions Robinson downplayed reports of animosity between the two candidates running for re-election. She said they met early in the campaign to discuss how to handle the unprecedented situation of incumbents facing each other and they had “nice interactions” at events.
“I’m sorry Councillor Burnside has lost his seat,” she said. “I want to extend my best wishes to him.”
Burnside, interviewed at the Leaside Pub on Laird Drive where he met with supporters, said he was not surprised at the result.
“I always knew it was an uphill battle,” he said, pointing out the redrawing of the ward boundaries may have put him at a disadvantage.
The new Ward 15 includes most of the old ward that Robinson represented but only about two-thirds of Burnside’s previous riding, as well as a small part of what used to be St. Paul’s ward, represented by Josh Matlow.
“I only have 35 per cent of the total voters,” Burnside said. “Jaye Robinson has 56 per cent of the total and then the old Josh Matlow ward had nine percent.”
By this analysis he may have actually increased his support base in this election, taking 43.9 per cent of the vote in the new ward, while Robinson received 49.2 per cent of the vote.
Robinson, however, attributed part of her victory to winning over a section of Burnside’s old ward. In her victory speech she pointed out a group of voters from Thorncliffe Park who had met with her and questioned her extensively before deciding to throw their support behind her.
“That’s why I am standing here,” she said. “Thorncliffe Park, I will never forget you.”
She told Streeter her first priority when she returns to council is to deal with traffic congestion and gridlock that everyone has been complaining about.
Asked if he had any immediate plans now that he had lost, Burnside said, “Right now I just have to put on the 15 pounds that I lost and then we’ll go from there.”
Did he think he would run again?
“It’s premature,” he said. “I do love public office, so we’ll see where that takes me.”
Three other candidates on the ballot fell far behind Robinson and Burnside. Tanweer Khan won nearly four per cent of the vote, Nimola Streker got 1.8 per cent, and Minh Le won 1.2 per cent.