Ian Paton has reclaimed Delta South for the Liberals.
The three-term municipal councillor jumped out to an early lead and never looked backed as he cruised to victory in Tuesday’s provincial election.
With all 87 polls reporting, Paton ended up with more than a 4,400-vote margin over independent Nicholas Wong.
Paton had 10,473 votes for 44 per cent of the popular vote. Wong had 6,050 votes for 25 per cent of the vote, followed by the NDP’s Bruce Reid (4,800 votes, 20 per cent), Green Larry Colero (2,134 votes, nine per cent) and the BC Action Party’s Errol Sherley (77 votes, 0.33 per cent).
At a jubilant Coast Tsawwassen Inn, Paton thanked more than 100 supporters, saying he and Jim Cessford, who he bested for the party nomination last year, have built things back up and left the riding in good shape.
He told the Optimist he was asked to run four years ago but declined, saying he needed more experience, which he got on Delta council.
"I really believe that we have a lot of Liberal-leaning people who live in Ladner and Tsawwassen. They understand that I've proven myself with my experience and what I've done in the community, the Delta Farmers' Institute, and that I'd probably be the one best suited to represent them in Victoria," he said. "I also think people believe it takes maturity and experience to be in politics."
The night began with a bang at the Sundance Pub in East Ladner as Wong proposed to his girlfriend, but his good fortune ended there as it was clear as soon as results started to roll in that the young independent wasn’t going to top Paton.
“The only thing disappointing is the results,” Wong said. “Everything else has been amazing and I can’t thank the community and everyone who has been supportive and helped out on the campaign enough. They have made this a fantastic experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
He was particularly grateful for the support of former Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, calling it a pleasure and an honour to work alongside her throughout the campaign.
Wong wasn’t happy to see Delta South return to the Liberals and vowed to stay active.
“I think having the B.C. Liberals back in power here is probably one of the worst things we could do for the long-term outcomes for this community, so you can bet I will be listening, reading, watching and keeping an eye out to make sure that the truth gets out there because, quite frankly, under this administration that hasn’t happened and that worries me.”
Huntington, who was at the Sundance Pub, said Wong had a great showing.
“You just hope that your man is going to win and the legacy of independence would be enough to pull him through, but that wasn’t to be, but I think Nicholas Wong had a fantastic showing,” she said.
Reid, who was watching the results with a dozen supporters at the Rose & Crown Pub in Tsawwassen, said he wasn't too surprised the Liberals won in Delta South, adding pundits had predicted as much when Huntington stepped down.
"Our hope was that we'd have more of the new people moving in who would be concerned about the social issues," Reid said. "As I said in the campaign, I think Ian is a good guy and will represent this riding well."
Reid said he doesn't think vote splitting was much of a factor because if Wong didn't run, it wouldn't have meant all his votes would have gone to the NDP.
Colero said he was disappointed at his numbers and expected a better result. He also said he was disappointed so many people had voted Liberal despite the scandals, however, he's pleased by his party's gain across the province.
"It's been a real honour representing the Green's message," he added.
Sherley was unavailable for comment.
The Liberals held Delta South for 18 years, from the time it was created in 1991 until 2009, before Huntington was victorious as an independent. Huntington was re-elected in 2013 but announced earlier this year she wouldn’t seek a third term.