Green Party supporters gathered Wednesday night in the Kelowna West byelection. - Image: Contributed

Green candidate ‘concerned’ with byelection

Neither the Greens nor the NDP could knock off the Liberals in easy win for Team Okanagan

The Green Party of B.C. candidate in the Kelowna West byelection said a Liberal stronghold in the riding is concerning after a 28 day election campaign resulted in a runaway win by Liberal Ben Stewart Wednesday night.

Robert Stupka said he felt he ran the best campaign in the byelection and presented voters with real answers to important issues. But Stupka was not able to pull off the monumental upset, though he did gather 1,727 votes, nearly 13 per cent of those cast, finishing third.

“We showed Kelowna West what real representation could look like by engaging with the community on important issues with real answers,” Stupka told the Capital News Wednesday night, following the official results. “We offered representation that would give the riding a big voice and represents the changing demographic. Unfortunately few (came out) to vote and voted for the status quo.

“I am concerned, given the concerns raised in the campaign, if this is the future we really want.”

Both the Greens and the NDP offered voters a chance to have representation from the governing party, or close to it, given the unique partnership in the NDP’s minority government.

But neither party could make a dent in what has been an easily held Liberal seat for many years. Even combined the four challengers wouldn’t have beaten Stewart, collecting 5,932 votes together, short of Stewart’s 7,692.

Stewart claimed nearly 57 per cent of the vote.

When asked what the NDP could do to earn more support in the riding, Cook said there were no easy answers.

“Given it held up so consistently from last time, I’m not sure,” she said.

Voter turnout in the byelection was 29 per cent with just 13,624 of the eligible 46,853 registered voters casting a ballot.

Stewart said the key to his campaign victory was his volunteers.

“The volunteers that worked on this campaign were second to none,” he said. “They were tireless. We had not only local volunteers, we had people from out of town, we had ridings, Kelowna-Lake Country and Kelowna Mission, we had MLAs and we had leadership candidates.”

The election also featured candidates from the BC Conservatives and Libertarian party and while Mark Thompson and Kyle Geronazzo raised issues, they weren’t able to gather much support with Thompson getting 898 votes and Geronazzo 110.

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