Doug Donaldson is headed back to Victoria to represent Stikine, thanks to a nearly 800-vote win over Liberal candidate Sharon Hartwell.
Analysts gave the NDP candidate the seat at about 9:30 p.m., a full hour earlier than in the 2009 election.
“Ecstatic,” Donaldson said of his feeling after analysts called him successful in Stikine.
Results from Elections BC show Donaldson garnered 3,769 votes, worth almost 47 per cent of the popular vote.
Sharon Hartwell of the Liberal party finished second with 2,995 votes.
“I have to thank the voters and our volunteers were amazing,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson also congratulated Hartwell and the other candidates in the race, acknowledging running for public office takes a toll on personal lives.
“I want to thank them for participating in democracy, but at the same time I’m really happy we won,” he said.
Besides Hartwell, the electoral district of Stikine saw Jonathan Dieleman, Conservative, Rod Taylor, CHP, Roger Benham, Green and Jessie O’Leary, independent, vie for the win.
Conservative Jonathan Dieleman and Rod Taylor of the Christian Heritage Party finished third and fourth, with 500 and 489 votes respectively.
Roger Benham, representing the Green Party, collected 286 votes and independent candidate Jessie O’Leary received 56 votes.
Bill McBain, campaign manager for Donaldson, said he had a feeling when the advanced polls came in with the NDP and Liberals running neck and neck that the evening would turn out okay.
“We were just killed in [advanced voting] four years ago,” McBain said.
“This time we held our votes in Smithers and Telkwa.”
Donaldson pointed to the work he’s done in Stikine over the last four years as an important reason he earned a return trip to the legislature.
A key issue in the campaign was the Enbridge pipeline, Donaldson said.
An issue he felt polarized communities.
“[Enbridge] dominated the debate,” he said.
“It became a pretty large component [of the campaign] and I think that was significant in the end.”
McBain added the hesitation on the part of the other candidates to express a clear position on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, as exemplified by the all-candidates debate at the Della Herman Theatre, made a difference.
In addition to issues around resource development, Donaldson said he would work to improve training and job opportunities for residents of Stikine, issues that he heard often during the campaign.
Donaldson pointed to the average income of the residents of Stikine, as well as other indicators of poverty, to indicate residents of Stikine, especially in First Nations communities, are not doing as well as other regions of the province.
Donaldson said he is excited go back to the legislature to represent the region.
But before he heads back to the legislature, probably sometime in June for swearing in ceremonies and then August for the introduction of a new budget bill, Donaldson said there were personal commitments he needed to attend to.
“My wife said I owe her at least four days in the garden,” he said with a chuckle.