Two new faces bring some diversity to Coquitlam council

There will be two new faces on Coquitlam council after Saturday night's municipal election. 

Trish Mandewo and Steve Kim took the seventh and eighth spots respectively, filling vacancies left by retiring councillors Mae Reid and Terry O'Neill. 

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Their victories bring a dose of diversity to council, which has been predominantly white for most of the city's history.

Mandewo said she believes she may be the first black woman to win a seat at city hall — an assertion city archivists are still trying to confirm — while Kim is of Korean descent. 

"To me, it means the voters realize we are diverse and we need representation and different voices, and I am very, very honoured," Mandewo told The Tri-City News Monday. 

In a city with a significant Asian population, Kim said he was happy to see two Korean candidates — Sean Lee finished 12th in the race — running for office.

"It is quite the honour and the privilege," he said of his victory and being the first Korean-Canadian candidate to win a seat on council in recent history. "It adds an injection of diversity."

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, who was re-elected to a fourth term Saturday night by a 10,000-vote margin, said joining council can be a steep learning curve but both Mandewo and Kim “have done their homework."

"I have confidence that they will be strong additions to a very workable council,” he said.

Kim stopped short of declaring victory after the votes were tallied Saturday night, when he took the eighth and final council seat by just nine votes over nearest challenger Robert Mazzarolo. 

But his lead held after the official results were certified by the city's chief election officer Tuesday morning.

"It seems I have a flair for the dramatic," Kim told The Tri-City News Monday. "At this point, we are just waiting for the [official] results."

Kim's hesitation to pop the champagne corks was understandable given his political history. In the 2013 provincial election, Kim, then a BC Liberal candidate, edged the NDP's Selina Robinson by 105 votes on election night in the Coquitlam-Maillardville riding. But following a judicial recount, Robinson won the seat by 41 votes.

As the polls were being counted Saturday night, Kim appeared to be comfortably hanging on to the final seat for most of the evening. 

But after 25 out of 30 polls were tallied, he found himself on the outside looking in, with Robert Mazzarolo in the eighth spot. The 26th poll put Kim back above the cutoff, where he stayed for the rest of the night. 

"It was like that scene in Caddyshack, when the last putt is made and the ball is just lingering there," he said. "It was pretty incredible."


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