Christy Clark has been given a strong endorsement by voters in Kelowna West.
Clark has won her seat with 14,559 votes to the NDP’s Shelley Cook’s 6,055, the Green’s Robert Mellalieu with 3,290 and independent Brian Thiesen with just 525 votes.
It was the culmination of what Clark’s campaign told the Capital News was a “long, hard campaign.”
Steve Thomson and Norm Letnick celebrate both their wins, as well as Christy Clark's in the Kelowna Westside riding. #BCelxn17
Steve Thomson and Norm Letnick celebrate both their wins, as well as Christy Clark's in the Kelowna Westside riding. #BCelxn17Posted by Kelowna Capital News on Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Clark defeated NDP challenger Cook who said she was disappointed with her result but happy the NDP had made some headway on the provincial scene.
“I’m disappointed of course but you know what, the people have spoken,” said Cook. “I hope we had a great voter turnout. I’m excited to see what happens provincially, that was really my goal. I’m thrilled with the numbers I’m super excited. There was a Liberal narrative around job creation in the campaign and this is something that has worked well for them. Thanks for everyone who voted, it was great to get out in the political ring.”
Green Party candidate Robert Mellalieu finished third in the race and offered these comments to the Capital News:
The Kelowna Capital News spoke to Christy Clark’s campaign manager who said she is relieved at the way the polls are looking.
Harvie Campbell said Clark was in West Kelowna four times in the last three weeks and is very pleased, calling the campaign a long hard grind.
The riding of Kelowna West — formerly known as Westside Kelowna— has a population of 59,750 in an area that encompasses a portion of downtown Kelowna, along with the adjacent City of West Kelowna. It also includes a stretch of homes on the west side of Okanagan Lake.
In a by-election called in 2013, Christy Clark was elected with 62 per cent of the vote. Ben Stewart won the 2013 election, but he stepped aside so the premier could run, after losing her own riding.
There’s never been an NDP candidate elected to this riding.
Incumbent Liberal candidate Christy Clark was first elected to the legislature in 1996. She was Minister of Education in the Liberal government from 2001 to 2004, but resigned before the 2005 election for family reasons. Upon her return to politics she was elected Liberal party leader in 2011, becoming the province’s second female premier.
She leans on the legacy of W.A.C. and Bill Bennett, who were elected locally and served as Premiers.
“The Bennetts faced the same challenge that I do. We would all like to be home in Kelowna a lot more than we get to but that comes with the responsibility of governing the whole province,” Clark said early in the campaign.
“The people of Kelowna understand the premier has a big job to represent everyone from Cranbrook to Fort Nelson to Prince Rupert to Victoria, but my credo has always been to keep the interests of Kelowna in the forefront of my mind all the time.”
NDP candidate Shelley Cook is PhD candidate in Community, Culture and Global Studies at UBC Okanagan. Currently also leading two research studies on homelessness in Kelowna. She is best known in the region for being the executive director of the local John Howard Society for 11 years.
She’s also a longtime Kelowna resident, who pointed out she couldn’t run in any other riding because the community is where her heart is.
“It’s wonderful to be in a position where people trust you with their deepest concerns and will just share those things over lemons at the market, at coffee shops and on street corners,” said Cook. “I see it as a real gift, and I also feel concerned about what I’m hearing from people.”
Along the campaign trail people have told her they want to see changes to their bank balances, in the schools they’ve enrolled their children in and the places where seniors are turning to as they require more help.
Greens candidate Robert Mellalieu is the owner/operator of a computer support business in West Kelowna. He was born in Chemainus and grew up in Duncan. In the 1980s he moved to Alberta to pursue an education in the high-tech world of computers. After completing his education, Rob accepted a position with ADP to head up the Central Canada Office in Winnipeg. He has served on a number of community associations and boards and has run as a Green Party candidate federally.
He said he was focusing on forestry and invasive species for this election, noting his solution to combat quagga and zebra mussels would be to stop boat transportation temporarily and consult experts.
Independent candidate Brian Thiesen has a background in business and has worked in several sectors from finance to economics and agriculture and says he has been studying the B.C. political scene for the past six years, to understand the problems the province is facing.
Those advantages include standing on his own, away from party politics, said the entrepreneur.
“I think, not just in B.C. but federally, people are tired of going from the orange party to the red party or the blue party to the red because they see it’s not making any difference,” said Thiesen. “They say one thing and then go back on their promises. It’s always the same. Their interest is not in the people, it’s in the party and retaining power.”