Naheed Nenshi re-elected as Calgary mayor

After trailing in the polls, he makes a comeback to capture his third term
nenshi mayor Calgary mayor speaks at the opening of Bow Tower in 2013. He has won his third term. (© Jeff Whyte | Dreamstime)

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi won his third election last night. He received 199,122 votes, compared to 169,367 for his nearest rival, Bill Smith. This means that Nenshi gets to continue as mayor after seven years on the job. Calgary is Canada's fourth-largest city and the largest in Alberta.

As Election Day neared, some thought that Nenshi was going to lose. Last Friday, one poll showed that Smith had a large lead over him.

In the end though, Nenshi prevailed.

Nenshi remains popular with younger voters

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Nenshi poses with mounties on the red carpet at the 2015 JUNO awards. (Getty Embed)

Usually, winning a third term can be a real challenge for politicians. Why?

Because after several years in power, voters feel this person has had enough time to fix many problems. If these problems still exist, then it's probably time for someone new, right?

And like all cities, Calgary has its issues. These include taxes and unemployment to a bitter battle over a new arena for the NHL team, the Calgary Flames. (Nenshi has rejected several proposals from Flames owners because they are too expensive for the city, and some fans worry that Calgary could lose the team.)

Despite these issues, the outspoken mayor has stayed popular, especially with younger voters. Known as the "Purple Machine" and the "Purple Army" (for the signature colour of Nenshi's campaign), his supporters were seen everywhere around the city the last days before the election. That enthusiasm helped him seal another big win.

First Muslim mayor

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Nenshi doesn't need to unpack his office just yet. (Getty Embed)

When Nenshi first became Calgary's mayor in 2010, he made headlines around the world as the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city. He has been recognized many times for his efforts on behalf of Canadian multiculturalism and equal rights. In 2014, he won the World Mayor prize from the City Mayors Foundation, a global organization. He is still the only Canadian to win the award.

But despite the praise and his success, he remains humbled.

"Being your mayor is the best job in the world," he said in his acceptance speech. "This city is the best city in the world. And our best days are still ahead."

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