May 15, 2013 - 12:58 AM
Tonight's election results defied predictions with a stunning Liberal victory. But results for the Okanagan re-affirmed Kelowna's reputation as B.C.'s heartland of free enterprise, candidates here say.
Voters in Kelowna re-elected all three of their incumbent Liberal MLA's: Ben Stewart for Westside-Kelowna, Norm Letnick for Kelowna-Lake Country and Steve Thomson for Kelowna-Mission.
Numbers are still unofficial but Elections BC is reporting:
Letnick got 57.34 per cent of votes in Kelowna-Lake Country
Thomson got 56.97 per cent of votes in Kelowna-Mission
Stewart 58.85 per cent of votes in Westside-Kelowna
Letnick gathered with his fellow candidates at the Coast Capri Hotel tonight to watch the numbers come in with supporters and volunteers.
“The people of our region are best served by the virtues of fiscal discipline, compassion and long term economic planning,” Letnick said in his acceptance speech.
Letnick also thanked Christy Clark who will now be working closely with her team in Victoria, though it appears she lost her own seat.
"Watch out – that lady's a dynamo, she's going to be working us hard,” he says.
Ben Stewart says Team Okanagan has a clear picture of where they're headed in the future.
"I know it's been a tough four years – the next four are going to be great, we are going to make the economy hum,” he says. "The central campaign team did a great job, it was virtually flawless except for one little red light."
Mayor Walter Gray attended the Liberals' election party accompanied by his grand daughter.
"I'm delighted at the results of the election," he said. "We can keep moving on into the future uninterrupted."
Gray says it's good news for the city.
"With the same government beefed up a bit with some very good, bright new superstars, that's certainly going to help us as a community," he says. "That's my interest, not losing any momentum in Kelowna.”
Westcorp spokesperson Gail Temple was also cheering on the Liberals tonight. Being involved firsthand in developing Downtown Kelowna's new hotel and pier, Temple says she's thrilled with the results.
"I think they are outstanding individuals who have done a fantastic job, of all the MLA's I've watched in the province I think they're very deserving of serving another four years,” she says.
“I look forward to some great government and a robust economy that has confidence now - British Columbia just voted in a very confident way.”
Young supporters, though small in numbers, also came out to support their local Liberal MLA's.
Former councillor Kevin Craig just finished his university degree and says Ben, Steve and Norm are the right guys to ensure future job opportunities keep young people in the Okanagan.
“I'm also really proud of the Liberals' record on the environment - that's something that matters a lot to me," Craig says.
"The 97 bus route has made a massive difference to student ridership to UBCO and the Carbon Tax is a massive step in the right direction.”
City Councillor Colin Basran admitted he was a bit shocked to see the province-wide results.
"When you heard all the polls, all you heard was it would be an NDP victory, I'm curious as to how the pollsters got it so wrong,” he says.
But locally he expected the Okanagan would adhere to its typically centre-right, conservative voting.
"I was quite sure that Ben, Norm and Steve would be re-elected and that's what we've seen happen," he says. “When you look at what the three MLA's have done for the Kelowna area, we've been quite lucky."
"I'm certainly looking forward to working with the three again, there's a definite benefit to the three of them being of one party – that makes things a lot easier because they truly are a team.”
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