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How Mike Hurley won: Energizing the anti-Corrigan vote

Slight bump in turnout likely a deciding factor
Hurley Smile
Mike Hurley greets supporters shortly after being declared the next mayor of Burnaby.

An uptick in voter turnout in Burnaby was a significant factor in Mike Hurley’s upset of the longtime incumbent mayor, Derek Corrigan, according to political scientist Paddy Smith.

In 2014, 29 per cent of registered voters filled out a ballot. This year, that jumped to 33 per cent. It was a modest rise, but it led to a nearly 6,000 vote margin between the political newcomer and the five-time incumbent. 

Hurley finished the evening with 26,260 votes to Corrigan’s 20,333, according to unofficial results from the City of Burnaby. It was a far cry from 2014, when Corrigan walked to an easy win with 69 per cent of the vote over his closest rival, Darren Hancott, who only received 22 per cent. 

Hurley ran a well organized campaign that “energized the local election,” Smith said.

His emphasis on “coalescing the anti-Corrigan vote” and concentrating on affordable housing likely got many previously apathetic people to the polls, according to Smith.

“You don’t need to get a huge extra bump in turnout to affect the outcome,” the SFU professor said.

Now Hurley is faced with leading a council made up almost entirely of Burnaby Citizens Association members – Corrigan’s long-ruling party. Smith said It will be interesting to see how much cooperation he gets to advance his policy goals.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Smith said.

He will, however, likely have an ally in Joe Keithley, the Green Party’s sole elected councillor who dropped out of the mayor’s race to endorse Hurley. Both supported some form of a moratorium on development in Metrotown and a plan to prevent further displacement. 

The BCA will have to find some balance, Smith said, and won’t want to be seen fighting every initiative set out by Hurley, who ultimately has only one of nine votes on council.

“I think they’re going to have to lick their wounds and figure out their own take,” he said.

Writing on Facebook, re-elected BCA Coun. Colleen Jordan said she was disappointed that her “friend/mentor/colleague” Corrigan and the BCA’s Baljinder Narang, a current trustee who ran for council, both fell short.

“Mayor-elect Hurley and councillor-elect Keithley were elected on platforms to bring change to City Hall, but we will all need to work towards finding the balance that the citizens seem to have desired through their choices,” Jordan wrote.

“We have a lot of work to do together.”