While the NDP’s Doug Routley was declared the winner of the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding early in the evening, the south end of the Valley had to wait longer to find out who would be the Cowichan Valley riding’s new MLA.
Sonia Furstenau was declared the winner at 10:40 p.m. to wild cheering at her campaign gathering at the Cherry Point Estate Wines vineyard.
“We have a lot of work to do and we’re going to do it together,” said Furstenau shortly after her victory.
“This was a campaign built on building community.”
Furstenau said North American has its first Green Party caucus.
“That is historic,” she said. “We’re going to demonstrate that politics can be done differently.”
The Greens are committed to working in the best interests of the people, she said.
“People felt good about voting, they felt happy,” Furstenau said. “It’s not responsible for other parties to suggest things are going differently than they are.”
Supporter and North Cowichan councillor Maeve Maguire said “This is the most exciting place to be in B.C. right now.”
In the early going the NDP’s Lori Iannidinardo came out to a small lead, with the Green Party’s Sonia Furstenau on her heels and the BC Liberals’ Steve Housser also in the race.
But as the night wore on, Furstenau took a good-sized lead. Furstenau commented early in the count that she used to be a nationally ranked middle-distance runner, so she was happy to sit second for a while before pulling ahead down the stretch.
The gathering at Cherry Point burst into cheers several times throughout the night as numbers came in for fellow Green Party candidates Andrew Weaver, who was re-elected in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, and Adam Olsen, who became a new MLA for Saanich North-The Islands. The trio of victories marked the first time ever that a Green Party has had multiple candidates elected to a legislative body in North America.
If all results remain the same from election night, the Green Party holds the balance of power in a minority government where the Liberals hold 43 seats, one shy of a majority, and the NDP hold 41. The numbers could well change, as several ridings had races that were too close to call, and recounts and absentee ballots will make the difference.
Ballot box missing? Not in Cowichan
Meanwhile, in other election night news, a late night Tweet about the possibility of a ballot box from the Cowichan Valley riding being missing caused a short-lived flap at Elections BC Wednesday morning.
However, according to Andrew Watson, communications manager at Elections BC, there was no reason to worry.
“I chatted with the district officer and they have confirmed that they have all their  ballot boxes accounted for. We welcomed the call but we have confirmed that there was nothing to that Tweet. We have all the ballot boxes confirmed.”
What would happen if one did get lost?
“Well, I don’t know if that’s ever come up before. We obviously take every precaution to ensure that that doesn’t happen and that all the ballots are accounted for.”
There are 97 polls in the Cowichan Valley riding and that means 97 ballot boxes; they include general voting day and advance voting.
“Now, we’re in the period between initial count and final count so all the preliminary results will be confirmed by the District Electoral Office, and in the case of a District Electoral Officer recount at final count those ballots would be looked at again, but right now they are in the boxes, sealed in the District Office in Duncan. There is one [district office] in each electoral district in the province.”