ROBIN AUSTIN is returning to Victoria for a third term as the NDP MLA for Skeena but with a smaller victory margin than before.
With all 82 polls reporting, Austin received 5,102 votes, ahead of rival BC Liberal Carol Leclerc who received 4,739 votes.
Austin’s 47.11 per cent of the vote was less than his 50.77 per cent (5,865 votes) in 2009 while Leclerc reached 43.76 per cent of the vote, more than the 37.46 per cent (4,328 votes) achieved in 2009 when Donny van Dyk ran against Austin.
BC Conservative Mike Brousseau received 735 votes, or 6.79 per cent, less than the 893 votes (6.79 per cent) he received in 2009.
Trevor Hendry of the BC Party received 254 votes or 2.35 per cent of the total.
“We won a squeaker,” said Austin who ended his evening last night at a campaign victory party at the Elephant’s Ear coffeehouse in Terrace. “Where are the volunteer sign up sheets for 2017?”
As the evening wound down last night, Leclerc wasn’t quite ready to concede.
“We’re going to have to wait until tomorrow or the next 10 days to find out the end of the story,” she said.
“I’m just thrilled,” Leclerc added before thanking her campaign workers. “It was a huge team effort.”
Leclerc’s comments refer to the final vote count which starts May 27 of absentee votes cast outside of the riding and of mobile polls held at hospitals and work camps and at more rural communities.
The initial count of last night also saw fewer people vote last night at 10,830 votes cast compared to the total vote of 11,617 in 2009.
That will change when the final vote is counted.
Based on the initial count, total turnout could be less than half of eligible voters in the riding. In 2009, 55 per cent of the Skeena eligible voters cast ballots.
Results across the province so far indicate that fewer than half of voters cast ballots.
Austin had the toughest job of hanging onto his Skeena seat of the three northwest ridings.
NDP newcomer Jennifer Rice was easily elected in the North Coast riding and Doug Donaldson will serve a second term as the NDP MLA for the Stikine riding which takes in Hazelton and the Bulkley Valley.
The three NDP victories in the northwest were a bright spot for the official opposition which otherwise saw its plans to form the next provincial government fall with only 33 seats won compared to 50 for the BC Liberal party.
One independent was elected, Vicki Huntington in Delta South, and one Green, Andrew Weaver, representing the upper income riding of Oak Bay – Gordon Head in Victoria.
Premier Christy Clark lost her Vancouver – Point Grey seat to New Democrat candidate David Eby.