July 11, 2013 - 12:31 AM
WESTSIDE-KELOWNA GETS B.C. PREMIER AS MLA
With just over 60 per cent of the popular vote B.C. Premier Christy Clark was elected MLA in Westside-Kelowna tonight. While some anticipated Clark wouldn't be able to match Ben Stewart's popularity with constituents, tonight proved otherwise.
Flocked by supporters, fellow Liberals and media, Clark made her entrance at Kelowna's Delta Grand Hotel just after 8:30 p.m. After tonight's win she says she's ready to prove she deserves the support of her new constituents.
"You don't win elections if you don't stand for something, if you don't believe in something," she said, and for B.C. her vision is about growing the economy, not government.
Clark promised her constituents she will be taking their concerns and ideas straight to the premier's office.
"You're coming with me, I'm taking the... dreams and the wishes of the people of Westside Kelowna to Victoria."
That means getting to work on projects like Westside road, making it "as safe as it is scenic," starting to plan a second crossing over Okanagan Lake and prioritizing a mental health clinic in the riding.
Her first order of business will be sitting down with mayors Doug Findlater and Walter Gray.
"Start talking about what their priorities are - Westside road is a major priority...you need to make sure lights and turn lanes are as well coordinated as possible." While the infrastructure itself will take some time, she says better management of the corridor will provide some temporary relief.
And some of that relief could come as early as tomorrow morning, with the premier expected to make a special infrastructure announcement near Wilson Landing's on Westside Road at 10 a.m.
Clark also thanked the other candidates who ran in the byelection.
"Thank you for stepping up and making a difference in democracy, this was a lively campaign with some lively debates...it made it interesting" she said while the crowd chuckled.
Kelowna mayor Walter Gray attended the celebration tonight along with city councillors Maxine DeHart, Luke Stack and Colin Basran. While Basran says former MLA Ben Stewart cannot be replaced, he looks forward to the advantages Christy Clark will bring to the Okanagan.
"Now Kelowna gets all the media attention" and hopefully a lot more than that, he says, adding he's not concerned Clark will be juggling her local responsibilities with her role as premier.
"Even if you're a cabinet minister you're flying out of town a lot, to say that she's going to be an absentee MLA is complete nonsense to me," he says.
One of Clark's supporters, Tim Kruva, says the success of an MLA can't be mesured by the number of hours they spend in the riding.
"In terms of getting things done, Christy Clark will be second to none," he says.
Another supporter, Lisa Simone, says residents throughout the Okanagan will benefit from tonight's election results.
"There's going to be great benefits to the Okanagan having a premier representing us.. it puts the Okanagan area on the radar for Victoria," she said.
Clark will have the next four years to live up to her ambitious promises, and says she's staying in the Okanagan for the longterm.
"If you didn't vote for me tonight, I'm going to work to get your vote four years from now," she said.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013