Incumbent B.C. Liberal Dan Ashton watching results come in on election night. (Contributed)

Incumbent B.C. Liberal Dan Ashton watching results come in on election night. (Contributed)

B.C. Votes 2020: Incumbent Dan Ashton heading towards third term in Penticton

Ashton was first elected to the legislature in 2013

After a short campaign and a long election night, incumbent Dan Ashton is leading the Penticton riding in the polls.

The full results and official winner won’t be known until all the final count including mail-in votes begins Nov. 6.

As of 11:30 p.m. Ashton was leading with 5,489 votes for 48.42 per cent of the vote with 99 of 129 ballot boxes counted. There are 48,525 registered voters in the Penticton riding, which stretches north up to West Kelowna.

“I would like to thank the people who put their trust in me, and for those that didn’t vote for me, and if it is true that I’ve been re-elected as MLA, I am here for you also,” said Ashton on election night. “That has always been the secret to my success; it is working for everybody, and that will never, ever change.”

This election saw 9,868 voters request and receive mail-in packages, and 12,240 early votes cast.

“It’s close,” said Ashton on election night. “We have all those mail-in ballots, and time is going to tell. To me, this is still a very close race.”

Those ballots will be counted starting on Nov. 6.

READ MORE: B.C. Votes 2020: Incumbent Dan Ashton leads in Penticton poll

Ashton has represented the riding since 2013, when he received 11,536 to defeat New Democratic Party candidate Richard Cannings, who garnered 10,154 votes. Richard Cannings is currently the MP for the South Okanagan – West Kootenay federal riding. In 2017, Ashton received 13,671 votes, or 53.55 per cent support in the Penticton riding.

For Ashton, the number of mail-in ballots are just another sign of the difficult times that many of his constituents are facing with COVID-19. He hopes that, should he be re-elected, he can work with the NDP to help the people.

“It could be a very long and cold winter, and that’s only going to be worse on how people are able to handle themselves,” said Ashton. “The NDP wanted a majority government, they got it, now they better stick to their promises; let’s get people back to work, let’s get people health, let’s get this pandemic under control.”

Summerland mayor Toni Boot represented the New Democratic Party in the riding of Penticton and received 3,975 votes, or 35.06% of the vote.

“The people living in the Penticton area deserve a strong leader who can work closely with government to help them and their families face the challenges in their lives – challenges that have only been increased by the pandemic,” she said in September after she had been selected as the NDP’s candidate for the riding.

Boot could not be reached for comment on election night.

READ MORE: B.C. Votes 2020: Russell leads as election heads to mail-in counting

BC Green Ted Shumaker said going up against Liberal incumbent Dan Ashton is like being David against Goliath.

“While I’m not as happy for myself, I am pleased for Sonia [Furstenau] (BC Green Party leader) and fellow Green MLA Adam Olsen. Horgan threw the Greens under the bus and it has stirred the passion in Greens,” Shumaker added.

If it were up to students in Penticton and Summerland, Shumaker would have had a near-tie to win the Penticton riding. In the Student Vote election results, NDP’s Toni Boot won with 32.93 per cent of the vote with Shumaker with 32.10 of the votes. Ashton took third place in the student election.

“This is what I need to hear,” said Shumaker. “That the Greens resonate with young people and we should be reaching out to them.”

Ashton laughed and noted that he had never won the youth result in all his years as a candidate and incumbent, citing younger generations more left-leaning priorities as a reason why.

“Do I wish it were different? Yes,” said Ashton about the youth result. “But as those kids mature and have families and grandkids, I can assure you their way of thinking changes dramatically.”

Keith MacIntyre of the B.C. Libertarian Party could not be reached for comment on election night.

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