With all in-person ballot boxes counted, BC NDP candidate Josie Osborne has been declared the preliminary winner of the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding in the 2020 provincial election, securing 57 percent of the popular vote.
“I’m feeling really great,” said Osborne on Saturday night after the results had been announced. “I’m feeling so incredibly proud of my volunteers and the campaign we ran.”
Osborne will be taking the seat of long-time NDP MLA Scott Fraser, who announced in September that he would not be seeking re-election. Fraser had served as an MLA in B.C. since 2005.
“I’m really proud to be able to continue the work he’s done,” said Osborne. “They’re big shoes to fill, for sure.”
Once Osborne takes over the MLA’s seat, that will likely trigger a by-election in Tofino, where she served as mayor. Osborne took a leave of absence from her position once the B.C. election writ was dropped in September and said if elected she would step down as mayor. She confirmed on election night that she will be giving up her mayoral seat.
“There’s a lot of bittersweetness about it,” said Osborne. “I have really loved serving the people of Tofino as mayor. Now I’m ready to work for the people of Tofino in a new way, and expand that to the whole Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding.”
Although it was a short campaign period, with the election only declared on Sept. 21, Osborne described her campaign experience as “thoroughly inspirational and exhilarating” as she was able to visit each of the communities in the riding.
“I heard very clearly from people what they wanted out of their provincial government, and I think we see that reflected in the results tonight,” she said on Saturday.
Evan Jolicoeur (BC Greens) has taken a slight lead over Helen Poon (BC Liberals), 3,785 votes to 3,111 votes after all ballot boxes were counted.
“Congratulations to my fellow candidate Josie Osborne on their success in this election,” Poon said in a statement. “It has been an honour and a pleasure to have such respectful dialogue during the campaign period. I wish Josie all the best.”
Graham Hughes (Independent) had 494 votes and Rob Clarke (BC Libertarians) had 345 votes.
It is expected that some ridings will see preliminary results as to which candidate will likely take a seat in the B.C. Legislature by the end of day Saturday. Meanwhile, close races will have to wait until mid-November for the winner to be declared, once mail-in ballots are counted by Elections BC officials after Nov. 6.
BC Libertarian Party candidate Rob Clarke said he wasn’t watching the results after the polls closed, but he had no illusions of winning the MLA’s seat. “You can’t beat the NDP in this riding,” he said.
“I wanted to get the Libertarians on the ballot so people could vote for them if they wanted to. It was for people who wanted to vote for freedom.”
Clarke’s goal in this provincial election was to earn 500 votes. In 2017 he earned 294 votes as a BC Libertarian candidate.
Graham Hughes was the first candidate to run as an Independent in the riding in a long time. Hughes said he appreciated the clean campaign all candidates in Mid Island-Pacific Rim ran, and that candidates brought a passion for leadership and not mudslinging to the snap election campaign.
“I feel good with the candidates who were there this round. I think everyone in this election has proven they’re there for the people they want to represent. I think Josie will do great. I don’t think the NDP has a terrible party platform,” but he would rather have seen Jolicoeur take the seat. In the waning days of the campaign Hughes asked his supporters to vote for Jolicoeur.
Hughes ran on a social advocacy platform and spent much of his campaigning time protesting the way homelessness is dealt with in Port Alberni.
Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Election results won’t be finalized until after Nov. 6., after those mail-in ballots are counted. An estimated 7,000 mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding. There are 44,869 registered voters in the region.
Across B.C., a total of 497,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Friday, Oct. 23.
There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.
More to come…