B.C. Premier Christy Clark will return to the B.C. Legislature this summer, winning the Westside-Kelowna by-election in convincing fashion over NDP challenger Carole Gordon.
“I am going to do everything I can to earn and deserve the support that the people of this community have given to me tonight," Ms. Clark told a cheering crowd during her victory speech.
With all 171 polls reporting, the B.C. Liberal leader won 62.7 per cent of the total vote, holding 10,666 votes to Ms. Gordon's 5,045. Sean Upshaw of the B.C. Conservatives was a distant third, with 989 votes.
The official final numbers won't be released until the conclusion of a count that begins on July 17.
The by-election was called after Liberal MLA Ben Stewart stepped down to allow Ms. Clark to run for his seat. Ms. Clark was defeated in her riding of Vancouver-Point Grey during the May 14 election, but stayed on as premier.
Mr. Stewart was by Ms. Clark's side while she gave her speech at the end of the night.
"You know what I always say: you don’t win elections if you don’t stand for something," Ms. Clark said. "Tonight the people of Westside-Kelowna have affirmed the things that we believe in. That we believe in growing the economy and not in growing government. That we want to leave our children better off than we were. That we want to have the means to look after those who are most vulnerable amongst us."
"That’s what we fought for and what the people of Westside-Kelowna have told us that they believe in just as much as we do and they told us that tonight in big numbers," she said.
The Liberal share of the vote in the by-election was higher than on May 14, when Mr. Stewart won with 58 per cent. Overall voter turnout was down, at 37 per cent for the by-election compared to 49 per cent on May 14.
Though Ms. Clark does not live in the Westside-Kelowna riding – and thus could not vote in the by-election – she has previously told reporters she would take up a second residence in the riding if she won the seat.
Eight candidates in total competed in the by-election, including four independents.