Norm Letnick has been elected in Kelowna-Lake Country in a massive victory for the Liberal incumbent.
Letnick outpaced his NDP and Green Party challengers and was the first riding elected on Tuesday night.
“Its indeed an honour to have worked with such a great team, my campaign team and with Steve and Christy,” said Letnick. “We’ve worked with local municipalities over the last eight years and I think that played a roll in it. You hear what people want and then you commit to delivering on those things. We’ve promised things and we’ve delivered.”
Letnick earned 13,834 votes, easily surpassing second place finisher Erik Olesen of the NDP (4,753) and Alison Shaw of the Greens (4,416).
Shaw, Green Party candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country, said she was not surprised by the election result but was energized by how far her party’s support has grown in the riding since the 2013 election.
“We boosted the voter shift for Greens by three times from our vote in the last election so I am pretty thrilled about that,” said Shaw, a Lake Country resident.
Shaw said she was heartened further by how her party ran a “lean mean” campaign in keeping with Green policy not to accept corporate or union donations.
“We funded this campaign across the province based on donations from individuals,” Shaw said. “The campaign is a short process and we had a limited budget.”
Letnick celebrated with Steve Thomson as the pair gathered with Liberal supporters at the Coast Capri in Kelowna.
UPDATE 8:55 p.m.
It appears voters in Kelowna-Lake Country have given Norm Letnick a strong endorsement.
Experts around the province have called the seat elected for the Liberals, and Letnick has given an acceptance speech, with less than half the polls reporting.
Letnick’s lead is 3,838 to Erik Olesen at 1,437 and Alison Shaw’s 1,441 after 46 of 95 polls.
UPDATE: 8:40 p.m.
At the Green party headquarters in downtown Kelowna, Kelowna-Lake Country Green candidate Alison Shaw said she is hopeful for a Green breakthrough in the province.
“I don’t have crystal ball but I’m really hoping 6 to 10 (seats) to hold the balance of power a little more in the BC legislature,” she said. “I’m just super excited to be here we have put together a really amazing team and we’ve done a lot of work. I’m feeling really excited about the Green resurgence ee have felt over the last few weeks
The Kelowna-Lake Country riding has just over 45,000 registered voters. In the 2013 election, Liberal candidate Norm Letnick won 57 per cent of the 21,485 ballots counted. The riding spans from the northern half of Kelowna, along with Oyama, Winfield and Lake Country.
Green candidate Alison Shaw is a local business owner with a doctorate in sustainability.
Housing affordability and unemployment are some of the main issues Green party candidate Alison Shaw will be focusing on in her Kelowna-Lake Country riding.
“As we know, Kelowna has one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada. We also know a lot of the residents within our riding are flying off to diverse locations for work and the instability that brings to families,” said Shaw. “I think the biggest priority in my riding right now is job creation.”
The Green party plans to create ways for small and medium businesses to thrive in communities, encouraging entrepreneurialism with training and education, said Shaw.
NDP candidate Erik Olsen has been involved in politics since he was 12 years old and first ran for city council in Ontario when he was 18 years old.
“We will freeze BC hydro rates till 2019 so seniors in my community can afford milk and prescription medications as well as reducing debt for British Columbians and allowing people to enter the workforce knowing their children can be taken care of,” he said.
The BC NDP is also looking at alleviating the pressures on small businesses.
“My community is built with many small businesses that are rich in history and are part of the identity of Kelowna-Lake Country,” he said. “We are committed to supporting BC small businesses with a half point cut to the tax rate, again a direct impact on my community.
Liberal candidate Norm Letnick is a former college professor who is married with three grown children who live in the Kelowna area.
The BC Liberal candidate in Kelowna-Lake Country, who’s running for re-election in a riding he has represented since 2009, has a long history of public service.
“I guess I have been serving all my life,” says Letnick, a former town councillor in Banff, AB and former city councillor in Kelowna.
But whether it was cadets in high school, student council in university, the chamber of commerce during his working career or as an MLA and, since 2012, as B.C. agriculture minister, Letnick said it’s the issues his constituents tell him are important that he tries to keep top of mind. Whether it’s money for local transportation improvements, healthcare infrastructure, agriculture, technology, water or a myriad of local programs, Letnick prides himself as a political advocate for the area.