With the spring freshet pouring down from the mountains across Kootenay West landslides are a very real threat.
And on Tuesday night after the polls closed across the province in the B.C. General Election, that threat was realized.
NDP incumbent Katrine Conroy took the Kootenay West riding in a landslide, with 62.99 per cent (10,606 votes) of the votes cast, more than twice what Liberal candidate Jim Postnikoff received (21.33 per cent, 3,592 votes), and far more than the total of the other three candidates combined.
Independent candidate Joseph Hughes of Nakusp finished respectably with 13.30 per cent of the vote (2,239) and fellow independent candidate Glen Byle of Trail collected 2.38 per cent (400 votes).
The NDP, with Adrian Dix as leader, looked to be clear favourites across B.C.’s ridings but the faces of those gathered at Conroy’s reception at the Portuguese Social Centre were a mix of shock and gratitude that their candidate bucked the provincial trend.
Speaking from Castlegar, surrounded by supporters at a reception at the Portuguese Conroy said she would continue to do what she has done as MLA in the past.
Conroy was asked if she felt the possible continuation of a Liberal government would make her job that much harder.
“It would make it harder but I’ve always worked hard in this constituency and will continue to work hard and will continue to represent the people of this area,” said Conroy. “Hopefully, I can continue the work I’ve been doing with seniors and making sure those issues are being addressed. We’ll continue to fight for what’s right and what needs to be done in this province.”
Conroy was first elected as the MLA for West Kootenay-Boundary in 2005 before the boundaries were redrawn in 2008.
She won the Kootenay West riding in the 2009 provincial election. She served as opposition critic for Seniors and Long-term Care.
In the 2009 election, Conroy took 66 per cent of the vote and won by over 8,000 votes ahead of the Liberal Party’s Brenda Binnie.
Reached by telephone, nearest challenger Jim Postnikoff spoke about the difference between his campaign and that of the eventual winner.
“We went on a strong economy and a secure tomorrow and we wanted to get out to the people; we wanted a stronger voice in Victoria,” said Postnikoff. “She’s got the very strong union movement here that always leans to socialist programs and that’s what the people of the area seem to want. In a democratic process, it’s up to the people.”
Postnikoff said he thought he would get a stronger union vote and said he would not rule out another run.
“The incumbent always has the advantage and the other big thing you have to understand is a lot of people didn’t want a lame-duck MLA in this area,” he said. “A lot of people thought, provincially, that the NDP were going to win. Going through this campaign, I think she’s heard loud and clear what the constituents want and what she needs to do to bring some of these things home.”
— With files from Marvin Beatty, Castlegar News