Political analyst says Andrew’s win was a referendum on how city council is doing

Political analyst says Andrew's win was a referendum on how city council is doing
WatchPolitical analyst says Andrew's win was a referendum on how city council is doing. Rebecca Lawrence has more.

Victoria city council has a new member.

Stephen Andrew won Saturday’s byelection in a landslide victory, scooping up more than 50 per cent of the vote and beating out Together Victoria candidate Stefanie Hardman by more than 3,000 votes.

“Victorians sent a really strong mandate last night,” said Andrew. “They sent a really strong message. They said, look we’re not happy with the way things are at council, we want a change.”

Although voter turnout was at an all-time low at only 17 per cent, it was still a definitive win for Andrew.

“I’m humbled by it, it still gets me emotional, that so many people would say, yeah okay, we’re listening to you, thank you so much for running, and we trust you,” he said.

The former broadcaster’s win is also historic.

“I am the first openly gay man that’s married to another gay man voted into Victoria city council and that is significant,” said Andrew after his win on Saturday. “It shows that most people in Victoria don’t give a hoot about that, despite some comments on social media.”

Hardman candidate congratulated Andrew on his win, putting aside the hostile social media arguments that occurred amid the campaign.

“We also saw increased hostility a lot of toxicity in the public discourse, especially on social media and online. I saw questions on the ability of women, Black, Indigenous, people of colour, LQBTQ2S people and their ability to run for elected office and that’s something we need to make sure we’re standing against,” said Hardman.

Andrew ran his campaign on promises to stop 24/7 sheltering in parks and boosting public safety and his win caught some political experts by surprise. One analyst says it was his platform that helped land him a seat at the table and also signals a big political shift in the city.

“We have one of the most progressive councils in the country. So in a sense, this was a referendum on how council is doing and represents a strong signal from over 50 per cent of those who voted last night that they want to see a change in council’s philosophical direction,” said David Black, a political analyst and associate professor at Royal Roads University.

This shift towards the right, political analysts say, may inform the next mayoral election two years from now, as current Mayor Lisa Helps has already said she will not run again.

“We’re seeing a blueprint for what’s going to happen in 2022. Will we see a strong, right-leaning contender, perhaps in Stephen Andrew? He ran for mayor in 2014, it would not be surprising if he ran again in 2022,” said Black.


Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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