May 24 2009
Free Press Files
Re-elected MLA Bill Bennett described Tuesday’s election results as “a fundamental shift” in the Elk Valley.
He vowed to represent the “very broad group of people” who supported his third term bid.
Bennett took 51 per cent of the Kootenay East vote and won by over 200 votes in Fernie, where he lost by close to 300 votes in 2005.
In Sparwood he said that he took 46 per cent of the vote, a 10 percentage points increase on 2005.
He added that in Elkford he came close to winning the majority and in the South Country he raised over 50 per cent of the vote.
NDP Troy Sebastian took 35 per cent of the vote, B.C. Conservative Wilf Hanni took 10 per cent and Green Party Jen Tsuida 3 per cent.
Speaking at his campaign party at the Heritage Inn in Cranbrook, Bennett told supporters he sees this as a message from the electorate.
“This is a fundamental shift in the way people in the Elk Valley look at free enterprise political party and it is an opportunity I really want to make sure we don’t squander. I don’t want people to turn round in four years and say they wish they hadn’t voted Bill Bennett.”
He added: “We had a lot of union people vote for us today – nurses, miners, as well as small businesses. When I say I am one of us, I am one of them too. I feel I have an obligation and I very much look forward to the duty of representing everybody in the riding.
“I think you may see me from time to time a little bit outside of where the main part of Government is going – hopefully not too far outside that I get kicked out – but I do believe I have a very broad group of people to represent over the next four years.”
Speaking to media Bennett added: “The whole “He’s one of us” campaign was designed to have people indicate whether or not they share a certain vision for Kootenay East.
“The vision includes traditional resource industries, business and tourism and whether or not people wanted us to continue to try to generate new jobs.
“I think there is a message here for local government particularly in Fernie. I think the voters in Fernie have said they want to go carefully and meticulously forward with some job creation and I think that includes coal bed gas.
“I think we are going to need to work really hard to make sure the people who didn’t vote for me and my party feel they are being heard as well because they have a valuable perspective on the situation.
“I hope we can bring everyone together and go forward with more consensus than we have had in the past.”
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