PAULA Havixbeck squeaked out a narrow victory in Charleswood-Tuxedo Wednesday night, beating her closest competitor, Jarret Hannah, by about 50 votes.
The slim margin of victory prompted Hannah to say he will ask senior election officials for a recount, a process he said could take up to two weeks.
"What a night," Havixbeck said, greeting her supporters in her campaign office late Wednesday.
"Everybody ran a great campaign and that's all I can say."
Havixbeck, who was backed by Tory supporters including MP and junior cabinet minister Steven Fletcher and MLA Heather Stefanson, said if a recount is ordered, "I guess we'll have to see how that all turns out."
Neither Havixbeck nor Hannah were surprised the race came down to the wire. A total of seven candidates mounted a bid to replace the late incumbent Bill Clement, including Dashi Zargani, Steve Szego, Wendy Lenton, Timothy Martin and Livio Ciaralli, making it the most crowded race in the city. Ciaralli ran against Clement in 2006.
The large number of candidates likely split the vote, Hannah said, saying his campaign officials believed he actually came within 47 votes of Havixbeck.
Unofficial results at press time found Martin came in a close third, with more than 3,400 votes.
"I knew it was going to be close," Hannah said. "There's so many people it split the vote so much."
Havixbeck said the first thing she will do as councillor is "have a rest" from campaigning. She said she looks forward to working with other councillors.
She watched the election results at home and greeted her supporters at her campaign office shortly after 9:30 p.m.
Havixbeck is a mother of two, president of the Tuxedo Community Centre and has worked as a business and marketing consultant for the past nine years. She has previously worked for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba.
She was considered a front-runner in the race to succeed Clement, having secured endorsements from both the Winnipeg Police Association and The United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg. She rallied support by focusing on crime and pledged to hire 65 new police officers.
The traffic gridlock on Kenaston Boulevard in light of the looming arrival of the IKEA store was also a big issue for voters in the ward. Havixbeck said truck traffic should be limited on Kenaston between morning and afternoon rush hours, and traffic lights synchronized to improve traffic flow.
She said she wants to see increased business development in the ward and a beautification plan to make Charleswood look more like Corydon Avenue.
Paula Havixbeck 4,190
Jarret Hannah 4,134
Timothy Martin 3,442
Steve Szego 1,955
Livio Ciaralli 1,271
Wendy Lenton 965
Dashi Zargani 581