It was a night of celebration for Jaye Robinson as she usurped Cliff Jenkins as councillor for Ward 25 by just over 500 votes.
Robinson arrived at The Burger Cellar on Yonge Street at 9:45 p.m. Before she showed up, the crowd cheered and chanted her name as the polls showed a clear lead over incumbent Jenkins.
In 2003, when both were first-time candidates, Robinson lost to Jenkins by a mere 80 votes. In 2006, Robinson chose not to throw her hat into the ring for a second time and Jenkins was re-elected in Ward 25.
This time around, Robinson ran a strong grassroots campaign that bolstered the community’s support for her platform.
“It was an amazing campaign,” she said. “There was a real warm feeling and positive energy surrounding it. It’s a new time for the city.”
Robinson praised the “mounted and collective efforts” of her entire volunteer team, calling some members “Jaye’s Angels.”
One such member was Heather Smith, Robinson’s campaign chair. Smith and Robinson had a working relationship prior to the campaign, when Robinson was a senior manager in the city’s economic development department. They worked together on such projects as Winterlicious and Moose in the City.
Even though Smith is a resident of Etobicoke, she drove to Ward 25 every day for the past seven months.
“It just shows how much I believe in (Robinson) and what she’s doing,” Smith said.
Robinson’s gratitude to everyone who assisted her during her campaign seemed never-ending as she expressed a deep fear of forgetting anyone. She admitted the speech she had written prior to the evening’s outcome was not one of victory. As a result, she had to whip one up in 45 minutes.
“It is difficult to get a seat from an incumbent,” Robinson admitted. “When I walked through the door, someone said ‘You won!’ The truth is, we won.”
Partway through the night, Jenkins made an appearance at the Robinson camp to congratulate the newly elected councillor.
“(Jaye has) a great bunch of people here with her,” Jenkins said. “It just demonstrates the quality of her campaign and it demonstrates how she is going to lead the ward for the next four years.”
Robinson called Jenkins’ appearance “impressive” and said he is “a class act.”
Robinson admitted that everything has been a wonderful blur of action. For the last leg of the campaign, “the candle had been burning at both ends,” she said, and even though she wants to get a much-deserved night’s rest, there is much work to be done come the morning.
“There is a big mandate for city council to follow through on,” Robinson said. “First thing for me is to make good on the promises I gave to the residents of Ward 25.”
Robinson senses there are big changes afoot for the city and that those changes are now on the fast track to being realized.
“This is Toronto’s time.”