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Liberal Milobar edging toward victory over New Democrat Hunter

The incumbent MLA holds an 700-vote lead, but Elections BC sent out 5,744 vote-by-mail packages. Ballots that were returned by Oct. 24 — estimated at 1,800 — will begin to be counted on Nov. 6.
election 2020
A handful of people were in the B.C. Liberal joint campaign office on Tranquille Road in North Kamloops, shared by candidates Peter Milobar and Todd Stone. The sparse scene was a far cry from elections past, which featured multiple party campaign headquarters filled with supporters.

Despite the fact he appears poised to return to the legislature amid a close race with B.C. NDP challenger Sadie Hunter, Kamloops-North Thompson B.C. Liberal candidate Milobar said he isn’t going “to go measure the drapes in the office anytime soon” as he awaits the certified result in the coming days of what has been an unprecedented election season.

With a five-candidate race, Milobar said landing in the mid-to-low 40 per cent range as he has was where he expected to be at the end of election night.

While there were 5,744 mail-in ballots requested for Kamloops-North Thompson, Milobar said at his last check earlier today, the number received by Elections BC was about 1,800.

Given his 705-vote lead with 93 of 107 polls reporting late Saturday night, Milobar is the projected winner of Kamloops-North Thompson.

Voter turnout is estimated at 41 per cent.

Milobar said conventional wisdom would suggest the results of mail-in ballots will mirror what came in on election night.

“I’m assuming that’s why the projection is the way it is, short of a monumental collapse of the rest of the percentages,” Milobar said.

With the NDP securing a majority government on election night, Milobar balked at the notion he and fellow Kamloops-South Thompson Liberal MLA Todd Stone are in a weaker position in Victoria. He said they remain in opposition, as they were before the election, and will continue to advocate for Kamloops and hold the government to account.

“Whether you lose the vote 55-29 [seats] or 43-42, you lose the vote,” Milobar said.

Milobar said he and Stone will continue to make sure Premier John Horgan and the NDP build the cancer centre they promised for Kamloops on the campaign trail and will continue to advocate for the number of projects they announced a Liberal government would follow through on.

“Kamloops needs elementary schools built and we need to see a foundry centre and we need expanded Car 40 services,” Milobar said. “Government should still be building infrastructure across this province not just in ridings that they held.”

Hunter did not respond to repeated calls and texts from KTW through election night.

Conservative candidate Dennis Giesbrecht watched the polls come in on a television downtown at Frick and Frack with his wife, campaign manager and press secretary.

He said while they did not get the seat count they wanted, the 19 Conservatives garnered a decent amount of the popular vote despite not running candidates in 68 of the 87 ridings in B.C.

Of his own 10 per cent of the vote, Giesbrecht said one always wants more. He said the pandemic posed challenges and the party adapted with more online presence.

Green candidate Thomas Martin was married on election day and was not available for comment, devoting the day to his new bride, with whom he celebrated in a small ceremony that included their parents in Kamloops.

Green representative Matt Greenwood fielded the call from KTW in his place.

“It’s not quite as exciting an event as it has been in years past,” Greenwood said.

As for Martin, “he’s completely in the wedding zone right now,” Greenwood said.

Greenwood said he was not expecting to see a winning result, adding the Greens just hoped to have had a decent showing in Kamloops-North Thompson.

Martin was neck and neck with Giesbrecht, with about 10 per cent of the vote, which is much lower than the 20 per cent the Greens grabbed in the riding in 2017. However, Greenwood noted, that year involved a fully mobilized campaign with time to organize.

Ten per cent of the popular vote is the amount required to get an election expenses rebate.

Independent candidate Brandon Russell watched election night results come in at home on his computer with his family.

Russell received 79 votes — not the result he had hoped for, he feels this snap election wasn’t one that allowed much room for vote splitting.

Russell had hoped to pick up some of the Green and more left-leaning NDP vote, which was not the case.

This election was Russel’s first foray into politics and he plans to run again, noting he’d like to get on the ballot if there’s a snap federal election called and may possibly run for city council in 2022, though he sees himself more in federal or provincial politics as he wants to be able to help a greater amount of people.

“It was a good run for sure, definitely not my last one,” he said.