The election-night party at the Hungarian Canadian Hall on St. Clair West for St. Paul's (Ward 21) incumbent Joe Mihevc and Davenport (Ward 17) spark plug Alejandra Bravo is bittersweet.
Mihevc, victorious against veteran opponents John Sewell and John Adams, walks into the hall at 8:45 pm to a nice round of applause from the more than 300 supporters feasting on a large spread of chicken on skewers and shrimp.
But Bravo, co-founder of the St. Clair West Village Residents Association, who lost in a squeaker to Cesar Palacio, electrifies the crowd when she arrives shortly after Mihevc, prompting one supporter to muse, "Okay, I guess Joe's 15 minutes of fame are up."
Taking the stage, the diminutive activist shows why she's garnered such huge support, delivering a fiery speech free of rancour after one of the toughest campaigns in the city. After losing by fewer than 300 votes, Bravo calls the results "an incredible achievement. I'll tell you one thing -- we're not going to abandon the work we started."
Mihevc acknowledges the bitter divisions in his community, especially over the right-of-way for the St. Clair streetcar, and a high-rise development at Bathurst and St. Clair. "Elections focus on that which separates us. We need to reconnect with those who were on the other side of the fence. I'm committed to this."
Fence-mending may be an uphill battle. At Sewell's campaign office, the post party mood's not so much sombre as pissed off. Sewell won't speak to NOW, and some of his supporters hint darkly that the fights within the community will only get nastier and more personal. "We call this ward the gulag and [Mihevc] the commissar," says one.
Luckily, not everyone in the Sewell camp is prone to such bluster. Long-time resident Brian Levine, a former Mihevc supporter who backed Sewell in this election over the streetcar right-of-way, says, "Miller and Mihevc should use their powers of persuasion to get the province to reform the OMB like they did over the Island bridge."
Let the fence-mending begin.