Women have been elected mayor for New Brunswick's three biggest cities in this municipal election.
In the unofficial results, which started coming shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Kate Rogers was elected mayor for Fredericton, Dawn Arnold for Moncton and Donna Reardon for Saint John.
"It's just a mix of feelings," said Rogers, who'd won with 9,050 votes as of 11 p.m., unseating the incumbent Mike O'Brien, who garnered 5,040, and becoming the city's first female mayor.
"I feel so grateful to the residents of Fredericton for putting their faith in me. I feel humbled. I feel really proud."
Arnold, who was the first woman elected mayor of Moncton in 2016, said she felt "fantastic" finding out she won following "a very, very strange campaign."
"It was really challenging not being able to go door to door, and there was a lot of online hate," she said.
As of about 11 p.m., she'd garnered 9,998 votes to beat her only competitor, Erik Gingles, who earned 7,016.
Reardon, who served as a Saint John councillor the past two terms, said it was a "euphoric" feeling to find out she won, following the eight-week campaign and then the two-week delay between casting ballots and learning the results.
She won with 10,089 votes as of 11 p.m., followed by Mel Vincent Jr. with 5,895.
The results began showing up on Elections NB's website shortly after 8 p.m., when polls in the Edmundston region closed.
Residents in that region were forced to vote 15 days later than people in other parts of the province due to lockdowns caused by COVID-19.
While elections in most of the province were held on May 10, the results couldn't be released until polls closed in the Edmundston region Tuesday.
In an email at around 11:12 p.m., Paul Harpelle, spokesperson for Elections NB, said the agency still had to process votes from Victoria and Carleton counties, and that winners likely wouldn't be declared until after midnight.
Results for health and school board elections were also released Tuesday evening.
N.B.'s first Black mayor
People in one New Brunswick town elected the province's first Black mayor.
Kassim Doumbia was elected mayor of Shippagan, on the Acadian Peninsula, after getting 705 votes, compared to Nathalie Blaquiere, the first runner up, with 410.
"I'm very overwhelmed. I'm just very happy to see that the people from Shippagan decided to choose me for the mayor. So it's like a dream. So a dream come true for me," he said.
Originally from the Ivory Coast, Doumbia moved to Moncton 21 years ago for university, and has been living in Shippagan for the last 14, serving as a councillor for the past nine.
Ralph Thomas, co-ordinator for the New Brunswick Black History Society, said Doumbia would be the first Black mayor he knows of in the province's history.
"I think it's special," Thomas said, who's 82 years old.
"I think it tells us now exactly if you qualify for a position or if the people in your community feel that you're going to do a good job, it doesn't matter anymore whether you're Black, whether you are a newcomer or whatever it is, that people are now realizing that Black people can be a mayor just like anybody else."
Results at a glance
The three big cities weren't the only places to elect a woman as mayor.
Kim Chamberlain won the race for mayor of the northeastern city of Bathurst, with 2,825 votes.
Other New Brunswick communities voted the following people for mayor:
Campbellton — Ian Comeau
Dieppe — Yvon Lapierre (acclamation)
Edmundston — Eric Marquis
Miramichi — Adam Lordon (acclamation)
An election planned amid a pandemic
This year's municipal election presented challenges, with a two-week voting delay between regions, but Kim Poffenroth, the province's chief electoral officer, said the elections agency was prepared after lessons learned from the initial COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.
"Being prepared ahead of time makes things run much more smoothly," she said.
"There was a plan in place. If a lockdown occurred, we knew exactly what the steps were going to be so we weren't left scrambling, trying to figure things out on the fly."
Poffenroth said Elections New Brunswick spoke with local government and MLAs about what it needed to be successful should a lockdown happen.
She said it was unfortunate New Brunswickers weren't able to access election results on May 10 as planned, but she was pleasantly surprised there wasn't an outburst from the public.
"There weren't as many complaints as I thought there might have [been] and once we explained to people the rationale behind it, people understood," said Poffenroth.