Polls are open in the Westside-Kelowna byelection.
The race, to take the seat vacated by former Liberal MLA Ben Stewart, is pitting Premier Christy Clark against the NDP’s Carol Gordon, B.C. Conservative Sean Upshaw, B.C. Vision’s Jag Bhandari and four independent candidates, Dayleen Van Ryswyk, Silvarado Socrates, Korry Zepik and John Marks.
The seat became vacant when Stewart stepped down immediately after being sworn in to offcie following his re-election in the May 14 provincial election. He said he stepped down so Clark could seek a seat in B.C legislature. Clark lost her Vancouver-Point Grey seat to the NDP David Eby in the provincial election, despite leading her party to a fourth consecutive majority government.
Clark won the Vancouver-Point Grey seat two years ago in a byelection when she succeeded Gordon Campbell as Liberal leader and premier.
Her NDP opponent is a Kelowna school teacher who ran for the party against Stewart in Westside-Kelowna last month and finished second, with just over 30 per cent of the vote. Stewart took 58 per cent of the vote.
Upshaw ran for the B.C. Conservatives in the Penticton riding in the provincial election and finished a distant third there.
Heading into byelection day, both Clark and Gordon expressed confidence in their chances of winning, with Clark evoking the memory of the two previous B.C. premiers who represented this area in the legislature, Social Credit leaders WAC Bennett and his son Bill Bennett.
She said both men put Kelowna on the map and if she wins, she intends to keep it there.
She calls this area “the cradle of free enterprise.”
For Gordon, the byelection campaign has been about local issues and local representation.
She said unlike Clark, she lives here and will continue to do so if elected. Clark, who lives inVancouver, has said she plans to set up a second residence here if elected.
Gordon said unlike her race against Stewart, this one has been more focussed, in part because the premier is running but also because it’s a byelection and, as such, has commanded attention from media across the province.
But she said she is proud with the campaign she has run and believes she has support in the community.
The byelection polling stations will remain open until 8 p.m. and a result is expected a short time later.
Polling stations are open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday at:
Chief Tomat Elem. School, 3365 East Boundary Rd., West Kelowna
Constable Neil Bruce Middle School, 2010 Daimler Dr., West Kelowna
Emmanuel Church, 2600 Hebert Rd., West Kelowna
Glenrosa Elem. School, 3430 Webber Rd., West Kelowna
Grace Baptist Church, 1150 Glenmore Dr., Kelowna
Hudson Road Elem School, 1221 Hudson Rd., West Kelowna
Immaculate Conception Church Parish Hall, 839 Sutherland Ave., Kelowna
Kelowna Curling Club, 551 Recreation Ave., Kelowna
Killiney Beach Comm. Hall, 516 Udell Rd, Killiney Beach
Parkinson Rec. Centre, 1800 Parkinson Way, Kelowna
Rose Valley Elem. School, 1680 Westlake Rd., West Kelowna
St. Pius X Church Hall, 1077 Fuller Ave., Kelowna
Sunridge Comm. Church, 1190 Stevens Rd., West Kelowna
Super 8 West Kelowna Hotel, 1655 Westgate Rd., West Kelowna
Westbank Lions Comm. Hall, 2466 Main St., West Kelowna
Westside Alliance Church, 2011 Daimler Dr., West Kelowna
(Given that the result will not be known until after the Capital News deadline for Thursday’s newspaper, look for immediate coverage on kelownacapnews.com later this evening after the polls close. Full coverage will appear in Friday’s edition of the paper.)