“Gregor. Gregor. Gregor.”
The room was buzzing as Vision Vancouver supporters stood chanting shoulder-to-shoulder at the party’s headquarters in a glitzy ballroom at the downtown Sheraton Wall Centre. The raucous crowd anxiously awaited for the man of the hour, Mayor Gregor Robertson, who had just been officially re-elected along with every single member of his Vision team on Saturday, Nov. 19.
Hours before, when the polls had first closed at 8 p.m., there was a sense of nervousness in the air as reporters were just starting to get outnumbered by volunteers and supporters. The crowd, both young and old, stood focused in front of two large screens in front of the room, tuned to Shaw TV, restlessly awaiting the incoming results while snacking on local “small farm” veggies and sipping red wine.
At one point, the throng of supporters held their collective breath when they saw rival NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton ahead by nearly 150 votes in the early stages of the count. But any sense of fear was quickly evaporated when the next set of poll numbers had Robertson up by 1,100, resulting in loud cheers from the crowd.
Even with the fairly close race, the few candidates that were mingling remained positive.
“This whole campaign has been fantastic and today was unreal,” school board trustee Mike Lombardi said.
“I think people have been responding to the positive nature to what we have to offer,” he said while adding his praise to the 1,000 or so Vision volunteers.
Coun. Heather Deal said she was excited for her party to have the chance to keep checking off the 57 items of their platform from 2008.
For Deal and her Vision team, it was only a matter of time before it was official that they’ve earned the right to keep tackling their agenda for another three years in city hall.
Around 10:30 p.m., with the Vision team clearly sweeping the race, the projector screens showed a teary-eyed Anton take the stage at the NPA headquarters mere blocks away to address her supporters. As she accepted defeat, she also congratulated the re-elected Robertson, which sent the Vision crowd into a frenzy.
And so began the chants.
“Gregor. Gregor. Gregor.”
The crowds thickened giddy with anticipation. People pushed to the front of the stage with a large Vision Vancouver banner emblazoned across the back. Volunteers jockeyed for position with photographers and reporters fighting for the right for the best glance of the triumphant city politicians who were overdue to make an entrance.
Tensions flared for a moment, as one man erupted in anger for no apparent reason. He was quickly whisked off by team of intense security guards as he violently flailed and shouted for them to remove their hands.
After that commotion settled and the focus shifted back to the main event, a Vision spokeswoman took the stage to announce the winning Vision team with the excitement of a junior high deejay. The crowd roared when the first set of school board trustees and parks board commissioners came out. This was augmented by a mix of embarrassed laughter and gasps as trustee Patti Bacchus tripped and fell while entering the stage.
But again, the jubilation of the crowd remedied the situation, as momentum grew as the elected city councillors arrived on the stage.
Then, joined by his wife Amy and four teenaged children, the man of the hour, Robertson jumped on the stage causing the crowds to lose their minds.
One of the volunteers shouted, “We love you Gregor,” as if Mick Jagger had just arrived.
After the crowd collected themselves, a beaming Robertson took to the podium to deliver his victory speech.
“This is a great night for everyone who believes in a bright future for our city,” he declared as the crowd responded with roars while news photographers pushed past a barrier to get the best shot.
“Thank you people of Vancouver for electing every single candidate on the Vision Vancouver team. We’ve shown that Vancouver is a city that cares. We can accomplish things.”
Robertson also praised the many volunteers for their contributions and commended his opponent Anton for her years of dedicated work for the city.
A touching moment came when he thanked his family “for putting up with an empty seat at the dinner table night after night,” before embracing his “sweetheart” with a kiss.
As the results became official with Robertson earning 77,005 votes to Anton’s 58,152, the newly re-elected mayor left the stage shaking hands with gleeful supporters as Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” played over the loud speakers.
Robertson later addressed the media saying Vision will focus working with neighbourhoods as the city continues to feel “the pressure to grow and develop” while dodging questions about the impending order of removal at the Occupy Vancouver camp site.
After getting whisked off by handlers and security, Robertson shook a few last hands and took in a few last words of support and praise.
Upon heading to a back room, before the doors closed, a few could see the newly re-elected boss of Vancouver jump up and do a jig. A sort of happy dance for the man who has another three years to carry forth his vision for the city.