Greg Kyllo may be accustomed to serving as MLA for the Shuswap, but it appears he will have adjust to doing it as part of the Opposition to a majority BC NDP government.
Preliminary results on the night of B.C.’s 42nd general election held Saturday, Oct. 24, showed the Shuswap BC Liberal Party candidate winning by acomfortable margin. As of 10:50 p.m., with 92 of 109 polls reporting, Kyllo had 7,921 votes, followed by BC NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren with 4,414 votes. and BC Green Party candidate Owen Madden with 2,223 votes.
Provincewide, preliminary results showed the snap election paying off for John Horgan and the BC NDP. As of 11 p.m., the party had secured 50 seats. Forty-four are needed for a majority.
While grateful to voters in the Shuswap for giving him a third term, Kyllo remained unimpressed with Horgan for calling an election one year ahead of schedule and amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve had fixed election dates in this province since 2002,” said Kyllo while at his Salmon Arm campaign office on election night. “All parties agreed to fixed election dates to provide certainty to British Columbians so that a governing party cannot take advantage of polling numbers for their own political advantage.”
Looking ahead, Kyllo wasn’t focused so much on the challenges he and fellow Opposition members face with an NDP majority government. Top of his mind was the work ahead representing the Shuswap and its consituents.
“People can rely on me to be their advocate,” said Kyllo. “If you are having problems with any form of provincial government, you can come to my office.
“I can’t guarantee an outcome, but I can promise that I will work as hard as I can to try to find a resolution to their issues.”
In a longtime Liberal stronghold, defeat in the Shuswap riding was not a surprise to NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren.
But there was a bigger, brighter picture.
Lindgren expressed her excitement election night about what preliminary results showed could turn into “a big win” for her party.
“It’s a team event, right? We’re all working together for one common goal, and it’s pretty exciting when you see the team doing so well.”
Although she was not able to defeat two-term incumbent Greg Kyllo, the other high point was seeing her own numbers rise.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle here, but I think we’re seeing better percentages than last time.”
Although she noted nothing is for sure until the mail-in ballots are counted, she said her percentage of the vote in the riding was about 26 per cent last election, and at one point during the evening this time she was up to 35 per cent.
“So we’re making inroads. We’re looking at the long game here.”
Lindgren is not certain if the long game will include her stepping up as a candidate again – “never say never,” she quipped – but she plans to be a part of the NDP team in some capacity.
Asked if winning in the Shuswap is an impossible dream, she pointed to Alberta.
“If Alberta can go orange after 40 years of conservative government, it can happen anywhere.”
She said the NDP is not just an urban party, making inroads in the Kootenays, in Vernon, in Penticton, in Similkameen, becoming a viable alternative in more rural communities.
Lindgren, a city councillor in Salmon Arm who took a leave to run provincially, said she has been keeping up with council agendas and is looking forward to getting back to council Monday morning.
Green candidate Owen Madden was unavailable for comment on election night.
In the 2017 B.C. election, Kyllo was elected as MLA for the Shuswap riding with 14,829 votes. Sylvia Lindgren of the NDP was the runner up with 7,161 votes followed by Kevin Babcock of the BC Green Party with 4,175 and Libertarian candidate Kyle McCormack with 410.
Unlike most elections, official results are not expected in the hours following the close of the main poll on Oct. 24. Due to the number of mail-in and advance poll ballots a final count and official results are not expected until mid November