(From left) A woman chats with BC NDP candidates Rob Fleming, centre, and Grace Lore during a campaign stop at Fairway Markets in Quadra Village. The store is a block away from Bay Street, the border between the Victoria-Swan Lake and Victoria-Beacon Hill ridings. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Five-time winner Fleming declared elected in Victoria-Swan Lake

Nearly 13,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Victoria-Swan Lake riding

Rob Fleming of the NDP was declared re-elected as MLA in Victoria-Swan Lake in a majority NDP government according to preliminary results.

Fleming had received 7,192 of 12,818 counted votes (56.11 per cent) with 112 of 112 polls reporting. Mail-in ballots have yet to be tallied.

Annemieke Holthuis of the Green Party sat at 3,831 votes (29.89 per cent), while David Somerville of the BC Liberal Party had 1,550 (12.09 per cent). Jenn Smith, an Independent, had 183 votes, while Walt Parsons of the Communist Party of BC had collected 62 votes.

“It’s just an honour to have that confidence and trust placed in me by constituents. I take the business of representing them in the legislature very seriously,” Fleming said.

The majority the NDP gained made the night “much sweeter” as it means they will be able to govern the province more consistently and take action to address issues of importance to constituents, such as creating more health clinics, protecting people from renoviction and building hundreds more child care spaces.

Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians opted to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Election results won’t be finalized until after Nov. 6, when those mail-in ballots are counted. An estimated 12,978 mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Victoria-Swan Lake riding where there are 40,590 registered voters.

Across B.C., a total 724,279 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Oct. 23.

Fleming didn’t expect the mail-in ballots to change any winners on the South Island, but said they may cause close ridings in B.C. to flip.

On the snap election call, the party essentially said, “look, we can run out the clock on a mandate that does have some uncertainty, or we could reset the clock, run an election safely and let our decision making chart the forward course,” he said. “One thing that emerged tonight was that, with all the uncertainty we face in our lives, people voted for a degree of certainty in their lives.”

Fleming won this riding in the three previous elections and once before that when it was known as Victoria-Hillside.

Holthuis, who spent 30 years in the federal civil service and retired in the spring, said she was very pleased with the amount of momentum the BC Green Party built with new leader Sonia Furstenau. She felt the Greens got their message through that the party is about more than just the environment, but also has strategies to address issues such as homelessness and the opioid crisis.

BC Green Party candidate for Victoria-Swan Lake, Annemieke Holthuis, (second from left), relaxes with her family on election night. (Photo courtesy Annemieke Holthuis)

“I decided to enter into politics after seeing the importance of collaboration and integrity of government,” Holthuis said. “It was definitely a good experience. We had some great volunteers step up and I’ve really enjoyed meeting and talking to people in the riding, despite the limits of our COVID campaign.”

Somerville, 25, a legislative assistant who worked directly with three to four BC Liberal MLAs, was running for political office for the first time, after campaigning for other people in the past. He appreciated being able to meet people in person during his travels.

“Campaigning during a pandemic was definitely a different experience,” he said. “I’m a very enthusiastic door knocker and I wasn’t willing to give that part of campaigning up.”

Despite the snap election call, he said it was important to get the message out there that people had an alternative to the BC NDP.

BC Liberal candidate in Victoria-Swan Lake enjoyed his first time campaigning for office. He finished third in the balloting based on live votes cast.

Early voting for the 2020 provincial election broke records, according to data released by Elections BC on Oct. 22.

The agency said 681,055 people cast their ballot during seven days of advanced voting that ended Wednesday, compared to 614,389 in 2017. In 2013, there were 366,558 people who voted in advance and 290,220 in 2009, with fewer yet in earlier elections.

In Victoria-Swan Lake 8,380 voters took advantage of the advanced polls for 2020.

READ MORE: Polling stations see steady stream of voters for B.C. Election Day, no long lines

READ MORE: B.C. votes 2020

For more election coverage, go to vicnews.com/tag/bc-votes-2020.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the ongoing pandemic, Elections BC estimates that roughly 35 per cent of voters used mail-in ballots, which will be counted beginning on Nov. 6. This means the Oct. 24 election results may change.

ALSO READ: Here’s what you need to know to vote


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca.

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