Touted as one of the 10 ridings to watch in B.C.’s provincial election, Boundary-Similkameen didn’t quite live up to its promise with Liberal candidate Linda Larson pulling noticeably ahead halfway through the count.
Enjoying the victory surrounded by family, friends and supporters, the Oliver councillor said it hadn’t quite sunk in yet, adding it will be up to council if she will step down from her position.
It was a tumultuous couple of months in the riding with former MLA John Slater resigning from the Liberal caucus in January after the party refused to endorse his nomination papers. Larson was confirmed as the B.C. Liberal candidate in late January.
“It has been a really tough go because we started way behind, we started in the minuses in this riding. I have had an incredible team of mostly women who have worked as hard as any group of people possibly could,” said Larson. “We had to overcome a lot of bad press and some very unfortunate circumstances. We had to start with nothing and like I said, I had a very strong team.”
Larson praised Liberal leader Christy Clark who made a number of trips to the South Okanagan during the election.
“I don’t know how much that made a difference but I do know every single person that met her was completely sold on her abilities as a leader, and if they hadn’t been sold before, they were after they met her,” said Larson. “Christy Clark without a doubt was a fine representative for all of us to look up to and to work hard for.”
The NDP also had their candidate, Marji Basso, unexpectedly resign within hours of Slater announcing his departure. Former teacher Sam Hancheroff was then nominated to represent the NDP in Boundary-Similkameen in April, beating out Oliver Councillor Rhonda Bruce and Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor. With over half of the ballot boxes counted and several outlets declaring Larson the winner, Hancheroff was still holding on.
“I haven’t heard that and if that is the case, that is the case. Right now I am still hoping and looking at things positive because we still have a number of polls coming in,” said Hancheroff.
The candidate said he was not watching the provincial results and was concentrated on the Boundary-Similkameen numbers and could not offer a comment. Despite the late start in campaigning, Hancheroff did not believe that affected his run at MLA.
“For me it was an opportunity to try and help folks in the Boundary-Similkameen. It was a late start for me absolutely but I gave it all for the last month as far as campaigning and I am not going to make any excuses. A late start, I don’t think affected me,” said Hancheroff.
Mischa Popoff was chosen for the B.C. Conservatives as their candidate and was later dumped for comments in a newspaper column he wrote about the Missing Women Inquiry. Popoff said he learned of that decision through the media and contends his comments were taken out of context. Nevertheless, he ended up running as an independent along with Doug Pederson and they appeared to garner the least amount of votes, behind the Green Party candidate John Kwasnica, on the ballot as of press deadline.
The Boundary-Similkameen had 4,774 voters turn out for advance voting out of a possible 31,178 registered voters.