A victorious Ellis Ross, who ended a 12-year drought tonight by winning the Skeena riding seat for the BC Liberals, promised to keep to his campaign pledge of working to provide jobs.
“I could really feel the anxiety in the Skeena riding. People didn’t want to leave and go to Alberta for jobs. That’s one reason why I did this,” he said in a speech before an ecsatic crowd at the Wings restaurant tonight in Terrace.
Ross won by a considerable margin, 6,370 votes to NDP rival Bruce Bidgood’s 5,089. Merv Ritchie of the Land Air Water party had 503 votes.
Ross had 53 per cent of the vote, the greatest percentage of any Skeena riding winner dating back to the 2001 election which BC Liberal Roger Harris won with 65 per cent of the vote.
Robin Austin represented the Skeena riding for the NDP by winning in 2005, in 2009 and again in 2013 before retiring this year.
In 2013 Austin had 5,609 votes or 47.71 per cent with BC Liberal Carol Leclerc coming in at 5,087 votes or 43.27 per cent.
It’s understood that Ross took Kitimat this time, building on Leclerc’s closing the gap in what had been a traditional NDP voting community by coming within 23 votes of winning there in 2013.
Ross, a former Haisla Nation chief councillor hand-picked by Christy Clark last year, did not win his home Kitamaat Village.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, we’d anticipated a different outcome,” said a disappointed Bidgood in speaking to supporters tonight at the Terrace Best Western Inn. “It’s one of those bitter sweet things.
Bidgood said he called Ross to congratulate him on his win.
“And I said to him, ‘Ellis, all I expect from you is to be the best MLA you can be for the Skeena riding.’”
Ross, Bidgood added, said that’s what he’s going to do.
“I’m surprised that I’m not feeling more choked up than I am, but when you put in your very best effort, then you sit there and say, well, I didn’t win the race, but I ran the best race I ever ran. that’s the way I feel,” said Bidgood.
Based on the 20,000 registered voters as of mid-April, the turnout was approximately 60 per cent, greater than the 55.85 per cent of the last provincial election in 2013.
Elsewhere in the northwest, NDP incumbents Jennifer Rice in the North Coast riding and Doug Donaldson in the Stikine riding had little trouble holding onto their seats.
As of 11:40 pm what had been a tie tipped in the favour of the Liberals, 43 seats to 41 for the NDP and three to the Greens.