[EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported voter turn out numbers, both for Delta North and the province. The numbers below reflect the correct values. Also, an earlier version of this story referred to advance ballots as absentee ballots. That, too, has been corrected.]
NDP candidate Ravi Kahlon is the new MLA for Delta North.
The former Olympian and Delta parks commissioner unseated Liberal incumbent Scott Hamilton, who was first elected to the legislature in 2013.
With all 76 polls reporting in and 21,987 ballots counted, Kahlon managed to win 10,685 votes to Hamilton’s 8,817 and B.C. Green candidate Jacquie Miller’s 2,512.
The final tally won’t be known until all absentee ballots have been counted. That announcement is expected sometime between May 22 and 24.
The first thing on Kahlon’s agenda as an incoming MLA is to head back out to the doorstep — something he said was key to engaging voters during his campaign. But engagement didn’t seem to be an issue at the Surrey, North Delta and White Rock NDP headquarters, where supporters chanted “Ravi” and cheered as Kahlon came on stage for his victory speech.
Kahlon’s parents, who were brought up during Kahlon’s campaign many times, were present for the speech.
“My parents came to Canada with nothing,” he said. “They worked hard and I’m so grateful. They got to see me in the Olympics, and now they get to see me as an MLA.”
Meanwhile, the mood at Hamilton’s election night party was understandably more subdued, as the outgoing MLA watched the results come in from around the province.
“Well, obviously [I’m] disappointed, but at the same time I congratulate Ravi for a well-run campaign. Obviously I was looking for a different result, but I hope he works hard and represents this community as well as I think I’ve represented it in the last four years,” Hamilton told the Reporter.
“It’s an incredible honour to represent a community as an MLA, and I’ve been very, very glad to have done that for the last four years and I’m going to wish him luck in the next four years.”
Hamilton thanked the people of North Delta for putting their trust in him for four years, before offering them one last piece of advice.
“If the next four years their trust is in someone else, I hope they take him to task, you know, hold his feet to the fire as my feet have been held to the fire in the previous four years,” he said. “It’s all about our community. It’s all about us moving forward and it’s all about us being a success.”
At the April 26 all-candidates meeting, all three candidates spoke about the importance of engaging the community. Miller, in particular, spoke about the importance of getting more people out to the polls.
This election saw some modest improvement in voter turnout over 2013. There were 35,392 North Deltans registered to vote in this election and 21,987 votes were cast, putting voter turn out at roughly 62 per cent. A full 20.5 per cent of those, or 7,279 were advance ballots.
In 2013 election, only 60 per cent of registered voters in Delta North took to the polls. Nearly 17 per cent of those, or 3,650, were advance ballots.
Provincially, voter turn out this election is estimated to be around 56.94 per cent, compared to 55.32 per cent in 2013.
This isn’t the first time the NDP have ousted a Liberal incumbent in Delta North, although it usually took two terms for the riding to switch parties.
NDP candidate Guy Gentner won the 2005 election with 47.46 per cent of the popular vote, and was re-elected in 2009 with 50.48 per cent of the vote. Liberal candidate Reni Masi won the two elections before that, with 45.5 per cent of the vote in 1996 and 60.54 per cent of the popular vote in 2001.
In the last provincial election, Hamilton won the popular vote over NDP candidate Sylvia Bishop by barely one percentage point — the closest margin in the last five elections.
In this election, Kahlon came in with 48.47 per cent of the popular vote. Hamilton came in at 40.1 per cent and Miller had 11.42 per cent. The final results won’t be known until the absentee ballots are counted.
Watch the videos below to hear the candidates speak after the results came in.
Kahlon’s victory speech https://t.co/t2eJ7ZfXTk
— North Delta Reporter (@NorDelReporter) May 10, 2017
(above) Liberal candidate Scott Hamilton speaks after losing his seat to NDP candidate Ravi Kahlon.