In her victory speech Wednesday, Premier Christy Clark thanked new constituents in Westside-Kelowna for welcoming her with “open arms and open hearts.”
She became the new MLA for that riding in a byelection made necessary by the loss of her Vancouver-Point Grey seat in the May 14 provincial. Ben Stewart, who initially won Westside-Kelowna, resigned soon after to give the premier a safe place to run.
Clark earned 63 per cent of the popular vote in the byelection, easily defeating runner-up Carole Gordon, who collected 30 per cent of the vote for the NDP. Six other names were on the ballot.
During her victory speech at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort, Clark noted her commitment to fix Westside Road and start the planning process for a second Okanagan Lake bridge crossing. She also pledged to work on a new health centre in West Kelowna. Clark also offered an olive branch to those who didn’t support her.
“If you did not vote for me tonight, I will work hard to get your vote four years from now,” she said.
Clark then saluted Stewart for sacrificing his seat and placing the interests of the Liberal Party ahead of his own.
“I have never seen anybody with the work ethic and commitment that Ben has,” said Clark.
Stewart also served as Clark’s campaign chairman, and the premier said he will continue to play an advisory role for her and the government. Clark also revived the spirit of W.A.C. Bennett and his son Bill Bennett, both long serving premiers of B.C. who helped put Kelowna and the Okanagan on the map.
“The people of West Kelowna deserve nothing less, so let’s get on with it with vigour and energy,” she said.
Clark campaigned on her ability as premier to deliver on her promises, and started making good on Thursday, when she announced $1 million to repair a 15-kilometre stretch of Westside Road.