The votes have been counted and the results are in and George Ferguson has been declared the first Mayor elect of Bristol after securing a margin of 6,000 votes more than his closest rival, the Labour MP Marvin Rees.
The result came as a shock to many – especially bookmakers – who were offering odds of 4/1-on for Labour candidate Marvin Rees to be victorious, right up until the morning of the election. But – despite a low turn out of just 27% of the voting population – the margin of victory proves that Ferguson was the clear favourite of the city.
Rees got involved in politics through a non-profit organisation called ‘Operation Black Vote’ who were established in 1996 to address the serious deficit of Black and ethnic minority persons in political office. Had Marvin been successful he would have been the first time in Europe that a Mayor of Afro-Caribbean descent was directly elected.
Ferguson is a well known Bristol figure (easily recognisable in his signature red jeans) who owns a number of bars and restaurants around Bristol including the Tobacco Factory – a unique Bristol architecture project which houses a vibrant caf, a bistro, a theatre space, a creative industry work space, an animation and performing arts schools and a live/work loft apartments complex.
In his victory speech, Ferguson commented that: “Today we voted for a new way of doing things. I see this as a vote for Bristol, not as a vote for me”. But Ferguson remained grounded in the reality of the challenges facing him, and is acutely aware that he must work in partnership with people of all political persuasions and backgrounds in order to make the city the place that it deserves to be.
Thanks to his business successes, Ferguson was able to finance his own campaign, which included no less than 300 friends and family offering their time. His campaign is estimated to have cost 50,000.00 – a small amount to a major party, maybe, but a significant sum to an Independent candidate – of which half was self-financed.
At the core of George’s campaign was the issue of standing up for independent traders and associations from the local area against large corporations, and he states on his blog that much of his ethos is based on the fact that big multi-nationals are forcing small businesses to close down – something he is keen to action against.
So here’s hoping that Bristol gets the makeover that it needs, and that George Ferguson steers his ship in support of local businesses and creative projects that help yo increase the incredible sense of community spirit that has always existed in this diverse city. As to whether or not, and just how much comes to pass, only time will tell, so lets cross our fingers and hope for the best.
Author: Hashim JavierThis author has published 2 articles so far.