Darcy rolls to victory in New Westminster

Judy Darcy is the new MLA of New Westminster. - Grant Granger/NewsLeader
Judy Darcy is the new MLA of New Westminster.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

Grant Granger

Judy Darcy had a big grin as she circled the Heritage Grill hugging her New Democratic Party supporters Tuesday night. But those who didn't have their arms around her were stunned as they watched the provincial election results roll in on the restaurant's one tiny television.

Darcy cruised to victory in a six-way race to replace retiring Dawn Black as MLA for New Westminster. It was a win for the former union boss that most expected. What wasn't expected was the NDP not forming the government despite the polls saying the party held a substantial lead over the BC Liberals.

"It's kind of like going to a birthday party and not knowing whose birthday it is," said one New Westminster city councillor at Darcy's victory party.

Darcy almost got as many votes as the other five candidates combined. With all 165 polls reporting the former head of the Canadian Union of Public Employees garnered 11,464 votes, which was 48.39 per cent of the ballots cast. It was well ahead of second-place Hector Bremner of the BC Liberals who received 8,030 (33.79 per cent) votes.

"I'm very excited about it," said Darcy of gaining political office for the first time at the age of 63. "I'm really proud that the people of New Westminster have given me the great, great honour of being their MLA."

Darcy praised the work of her volunteers in getting out the vote for her in a riding the NDP has dominated since the 1950s. In her speech to her supporters Tuesday, she vowed to fight as an opposition member for seniors services, and improved health care and education for New Westminster residents.

Bremner, 32, was a newcomer to the New Westminster political scene that faced an uphill battle against the city's New Democrat juggernaut.

"I'm feeling pretty good. We had a great effort. We felt like we put forth a campaign that anybody could be part of. We gave people a choice in New Westminster," said Bremner as his supporters gathered at the Waffle House to watch the results roll in. "We lost by 5,000 votes last time, so we've gained substantial ground. Nobody expected us to win … [But] no longer is it just a coronation or a passing of the baton taking place in New Westminster. That matters more than anything."

Bremner said the Liberals' overall victory means Royal Columbian Hospital will get the redevelopment the provincial government has committed to.

He also said it proves the polls have been getting it wrong for a long time provincially, federally and even in the United States. "Now they're going to have to look deeper into the numbers."

The marketing consultant said he has no idea what might lie ahead for him politically, and hasn't even considered if he'd run in the 2014 municipal election.

Third place went to Terry Teather of the Green Party with 1,920 votes (8.19 per cent).

"I was quite pleased with it. Being a first-time candidate I was new to it and I was pleased with the number of votes that I got. The Green profile is out there," said Teather. "I'm thrilled with that. you have to be realistic … I had no dreams that it was going to be a runaway victory."

Teather, an educator with the Surrey school district, added he would stay involved with the party and keep the door open for another run at political office.

Former MP Paul Forseth of the BC Conservatives finished fourth. He had 1,138 votes (4.85 per cent) at last count.

Although independent James Crosty had a high profile in the city it didn't translate at the ballot box. The former mayoral candidate finished fifth (928, 3.96 per cent), beating out only Lewis Dahlby (167, 0.71) of the BC Libertarian Party, a Port Coquitlam resident.

"We ran a good campaign, I'm not disappointed at all … I thought I'd do a little bit better than that, but you're up against candidates with the party machines behind them," said Crosty. "I made these guys talk. You know from a perspective from what I brought to the all-candidates meetings, they had to talk about the issues that affected New West. I'm not going anywhere, I love this city."

Crosty said it's too soon to tell if he will seek civic office again when the next municipal elections roll around in November 2014.

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