Plante says her strong mayoral win shows Montrealers believe in her vision – Montreal Gazette

Freshly re-elected mayor, she promised swift action in her first 100 days, including on affordable housing and hiring more police officers.
The good news continues to roll in for Valérie Plante.
The day after she was re-elected mayor of Montreal by a wide margin, her news conference was interrupted by the announcement that her Projet Montréal candidate had just scored a come-from-behind win to become mayor of the largest borough in the city.
Gracia Kasoki Katahwa was declared mayor of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce only once the last ballot box had been counted, snatching victory by 83 votes from incumbent Lionel Perez of Ensemble Montréal, who had been leading by a wide margin Sunday night.
“We are here for you,” Plante proclaimed amid cheers from her victorious candidates. “We are coming home, Côte-des-Neiges—N.D.G.”
Plante said her strong win, which also gave her party a 36-23 seat majority on city council, came as a validation of the projects and vision Projet Montréal put forward during her first four years in office .
“Yesterday, Montrealers gave us a great vote of confidence,” she said. “We accept this mandate with a lot of humility. It’s a huge responsibility and privilege to be chosen by the population, and we will be there to accompany Montrealers for the issues that concern them.”
In those boroughs where Projet Montréal didn’t see any councillors elected, she pledged to work with the teams in place, and promised to name members of the opposition to the city’s executive committee.
As of late Monday morning, Plante said she had still not been able to get in touch with her main opponent, Ensemble Montréal leader Denis Coderre. She called Sunday after her victory, but was sent to voicemail, where she left a message.
“No, he hasn’t reached out yet,” Plante said, adding that she didn’t think it was anything personal. “I think he’s just busy.”
She defeated her main rival by a commanding 14-point margin. In his concession speech, political veteran Coderre said it was among the dirtiest campaigns he’d ever been in. Coderre’s team was beset by revelations about candidates who were accused of financial improprieties or who posted controversial statements on social media. Coderre made repeated headlines for refusing to divulge his revenue sources over the last four years before finally doing so, and Plante saw allegations revealed of sexual harassment against one of her councillors dating back to 2012.
Plante didn’t agree it was a dirty campaign, saying the media was doing its job and questions have to be asked.
“I found it to be a campaign that put ideas to the forefront, and I thought it was super positive for the image of Projet Montréal,” she said. She added she was open to recounts in any close races where they were deemed necessary.
Coderre has still not announced whether he will stay on as leader of the opposition. He did not do so when he lost his mayoral bid to Plante in 2017.
“I’m not here to decide for him,” Plante said. “But it’s always been very clear it’s not a dishonour to be the leader of the opposition. It’s a very important position. If I would not have been the mayor again, it’s a position that I would have taken, with honour, because that’s what democracy is about. So, I guess it’s for him to decide. Does he accept the population’s will?”
Asked about the low turnout for this election — only 38 per cent of eligible citizens voted, compared with 42 per cent in 2017 — Plante suggested it could have been because Montreal’s election came soon after the federal one in September, causing voter fatigue. The COVID-19 pandemic possibly kept some people from going out in public, she added.
Plante pledged to get a quick start on her main priorities during her first 100 days in office. Top projects include presenting a balanced budget, with residential property taxes increasing by a maximum of two per cent in the first year; buying land to create affordable housing; starting a certification process for larger landlords to limit renovictions and dramatic rent hikes; planning how to spend the $1 billion the city has earmarked to revitalize Montreal’s downtown core; and studying how to develop the city’s underserved east end.
She also pledged to hire 80 police officers within the next 100 days to bolster security and to double the amount given to community organizations working to reduce crime and provide young people with alternatives. In the longer term, her focus will be on managing the city’s “ecological transition” by doing things like building more energy-efficient buildings, promoting green transit alternatives, reducing food waste, protecting and creating green spaces and planting trees.
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