VERNON - Mel Arnold plans to spend his first day as a member of Parliament saying thank you.
“So many people kicked in to make this campaign successful,” Arnold says. “I want to thank the volunteers that came out and supported me and the people that voted for me. That means so much moving forward.”
A wave of Liberal red swept across the country Monday night, Oct. 19, but the Conservatives held on in the North Okanagan-Shuswap with Arnold taking home 27,490 votes, or 39.3 per cent. While Arnold won by a healthy 10 per cent margin (Liberal Cindy Derkaz came in second, pulling in roughly 30 per cent of the vote) Conservative support dipped significantly compared to previous elections. Former Conservative North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes, who did not seek re-election, won his past two terms with over 50 per cent of the vote.
Of 96,243 registered voters in the riding, 69,953 people cast ballots. That represents a voter turnout of about 73 per cent, up from around 63 per cent in the last election.
Watching the nationwide election results flood in Monday night, Arnold was surprised by the swell of Liberal support.
“That certainly wasn’t what we expected,” he says. “We look forward to being an effective opposition, and look forward to building towards the next election.”
Arnold plans to pull away from his business, Complete Marine Detailing, to focus on his role as MP. One of his main priorities out of the starting gate will be promoting good, local jobs to keep families in the region.
“I want to work with local business and government to do what I can as their representative in Ottawa to make sure we bring those issues forward and keep the economy strong. Hopefully that follows through with the government in place,” he says. “If we can create those jobs, keep our economy strong, we can afford the other programs we need for our seniors in the area.”
He believes one of his biggest challenges will be determining the riding’s highest priorities.
“It’s a big riding with a diverse population,” he says. “I think the constituents will let me know what those (priorities) are and I’ll carry them forward.”
He’s eager to roll up his sleeves and get started, and says he’s just waiting on a call from Ottawa.
The day after the election, he’s still receiving an overwhelming amount of congratulatory emails, calls and messages — but for his part, Arnold is turning the spotlight on those around him.
“The highlight of the campaign was meeting people in the riding, and the volunteers who made all the difference. We’ve met so many wonderful people over the last year or more. It’s just a life experience I would never want to give up,” he says.
FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS: NORTH OKANAGAN-SHUSWAP
Mel Arnold, Conservative - 27,490 votes, 39.3 per cent
Cindy Derkaz, Liberal - 20,951 votes, 30 per cent
Chris George, Green - 3,609 votes, 5.2 per cent
Jacqui Gingras, NDP - 17,903 votes, 25.6 per cent
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