Premier Christy Clark offered her thanks tonight for Westside-Kelowna byelection voters welcoming her with “open arms and open hearts” to become their next MLA.
Clark easily won the byelection with more than 62.7 per cent of the popular vote, an increase over the 58 per cent mark achieved by Liberal candidate Ben Stewart in the May 14 provincial election.
One of Clark’s campaign platforms was her ability she said to deliver on her promises to Westside-Kelowna constituents as the premier, and she will hit the road running with a press conference tomorrow to announce further road patching and pavement funding for the troubled Westside Road, ranked as the most dangerous road in the province.
During her victory speech at the Delta Grand surrounded by hundreds of supporters, Clark noted her commitment to pursue making Westside Road a safer and scenic drive, to start the planning process for a second Okanagan Lake bridge crossing, a new health centre that includes mental health care services, building on the post-secondary skills training foundation set by UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College and to encourage a thriving high tech development industry.
She also addressed the people who did not vote for her in the byelection, saying that “if you did not vote for me tonight, I will work hard to get your vote four years from now.”
Clark also saluted Stewart for sacrificing his MLA seat, placing the interests of the Liberal Party ahead of his own personal interests. “I have never seen anybody with the work ethic and commitment that Ben has,” said Clark.
Stewart also served as Clark’s byelection campaign chairman, and the premier said he will continue to play an advisory role for her and the government.
Clark also revived the spirit of W.A.C. Bennett and his son Bill Bennett, both long serving premiers of B.C. who helped put Kelowna and the Okanagan on the map. “The people of West Kelowna deserve nothing less so lets get on with it with vigour and energy,” she said.
Fellow Central Okanagan Liberal MLAs Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission) and Norm Letnick (Kelowna-Lake Country) both said it’s great for the region to have the premier as a local MLA, an opinion also echoed by Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, particularly since city hall falls within the Westside-Kelowna riding boundaries.
With 171 of 171 voting stations having reported in, the vote results are:
Jag Bhandari (BC Vision) 43
Christy Clark (Liberal) 10,666
Carole Gordon (NDP) 5,045
John Marks (Independent) 71
Silverado Socrates (Independent) 43
Sean Upshaw (Conservative) 989
Dayleeen Van Ryswyk (Independent) 129
Korry Zepik (Independent) 26
A total of 17,012 votes were cast