February 03, 2016 - 9:30 AM
VANCOUVER - Two newly elected New Democrats say they'll advocate for children, education and affordable housing when they take their seats in British Columbia's legislature.
Electors in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain voted on Tuesday to send New Democrats Melanie Mark and Jodie Wickens to Victoria.
Mark won easily in her Vancouver riding, securing almost 61 per cent of the vote and beating second-place candidate Pete Fry of the B.C. Green Party by more than 3,000 votes.
B.C. Liberal Gavin Dew placed a distant third, earning just 994 votes.
In Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, Wickens earned more than 46 per cent of the vote, pulling ahead of Liberal Joan Isaacs by 626 votes by the end of the night.
Joe Keithley of the B.C. Green Party finished a distant third, collecting 1,061 votes.
Mark said she dug deep and reflected on her days as a rugby player to come up with the win.
"I've said time and time again I've never taken anything for granted in my life, including my own life, and so you know we worked hard every single day," she said.
"You know, we just pushed through. I used to play rugby, right. You just got to dig deep and drive, drive, drive to the finish line, and we didn't stop."
Mark said she plans to advocate for affordable housing, children's education, health and welfare.
"This vote isn't for me, right," she said. "This vote is for reconciliation. This vote is for people who want to change up the narrative and who want to restore hope and confidence in our future."
Wickens said she knew the race would be close because her riding is a traditional Liberal stronghold and she didn't take anything for granted.
However, Wickens said she heard some consistent messages when she visited local voters.
"When I was on their doorsteps, they told me that they felt left behind, they told me that they wanted a well-funded education system, they wanted schools built, they wanted public transportation, and those are all of the things that I will fight for in the legislature," she said.
Isaacs said in a statement that she plans to seek the Liberal nomination for the 2017 provincial election.
"I am proud of the accomplishments that a strong provincial economy and B.C. Liberal government has brought to Coquitlam-Burke Mountain," she said.
Isaacs pointed to Liberal achievements, including the $1.4-billion Evergreen Line, the $20.5 million Smiling Creek elementary school and two new $175-million mental health buildings at Riverview.
Premier Christy Clark called the byelections last month to fill legislative seats left vacant by Jenny Kwan and Doug Horne who both decided to run in the federal election.
Kwan won for the New Democrats, while Horne lost for the Conservatives in the October vote.
The next provincial election is scheduled for May 9, 2017.
Prior to Tuesday's vote the Liberals held 48 seats in the legislature, compared to 33 for the New Democrats and two independents.
The B.C. Liberal Party has noted that since 1963 governing parties have only won four of 32 byelections.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016