The BC Liberals Tom Shypitka has swept Kootenay East according to preliminary results in the 2020 BC election. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

This is Shypitka country: BC Liberals sweep every booth in Elk Valley

The BC Liberal candidate (and continuing MLA) for Kootenay East, Tom Shypitka, swept almost the entirety of the riding at October’s provincial election, winning almost every poll from Cranbrook to the South County to Elkford on voting day as well as claiming victory in advance voting and mail-in ballots.

While overall results showed a healthy lead for Shypitka with him securing 57.9 per cent of the vote against his NDP challenger’s 31.17 per cent, poll-by-poll numbers from voting day reveal that Shypitka won every polling place across the riding but five according to recently released data.

There were 56 polling places at the Oct. 24 election with Shypitka winning 51 of them, not counting advance voting booths and the mail-in total.

While the four booths that the NDP won were over in Cranbrook, the Elk Valley was a complete sweep for the BC Liberals, with Shypitka cutting deep into the NDP vote from north to south, snatching Fernie from the NDP, where in 2017 most polling places went to then-candidate and former Fernie Mayor Randal Macnair.

In and around Fernie, Shypitka’s vote total was less than in other Elk Valley communities, but he still managed to stay ahead of the NDP at every polling place, winning 45.9 per cent of the vote compared to Stetski’s 32.23 per cent of the election-day vote, while the BC Green’s Kerri Wall won 21.86 percent of the vote.

Shypitka said that his success in Fernie was a result of a stronger ground game in response to losing the area back in 2017.

“There was several polls in the Elk Valley that we didn’t win (in 2017),” he said.

“So we really tried to reach out to those folks, took part in a lot of meetings and engagement, really made our presence known, did a lot of groundwork and it seemed to pay off.”

Sparwood was the BC Liberal’s strongest showing in the Elk Valley, with election-day results giving Shypitka 70.55 per cent of the vote, ahead of Stetski’s 21.15 per cent and Wall’s 8.29 per cent.

Similarly, Elkford broke heavily for the BC Liberals on election day, 68.73 per cent to Shypitka, 21.56 per cent to Stetski and 9.7 per cent to Wall.

Comparisons with the 2017 provincial election results are muddied by higher advance voting in 2020 due to the pandemic, but Shypitka swept advance voting counts too, leading Stetski in Fernie (48 per cent to 37 per cent), Sparwood (68 per cent to 24 per cent) and Elkford (69 per cent to 23 per cent).

Combining results from all polling places this side of the Elko tunnel on election day, the Elk Valley was not quite as dark a shade of red as the election result overall suggested, with Shypitka winning 55.95 per cent, Stetski winning 27.65 per cent and Wall winning 16.39 per cent.

Adding the advance polls however marks the Elk Valley as almost in line with Shypitka’s results overall, with 56.73 per cent of voters backing the BC Liberals (compared to 57.9 percent in Kootenay East overall). The NDP on the other hand under-performed its riding-wide results, winning only 28.95 per cent of the Elk Valley vote compared to 32.17 per cent in the riding.

The stand-out was the BC Green’s Kerri Wall, who won 14.32 per cent of the vote in the Elk Valley compared to 9.93 per cent in the riding overall.

Mail-in ballots (which Shypitka won also) were riding-wide, and unable to be analyzed on a local level, though voters who chose to vote by mail proved to be much more inclined to vote NDP. Stetski won 44 percent of mail-in ballots, but still lost out to Shypitka, who won 48 percent.

With the valley being a clean sweep, Shypitka said he’d be working even harder to try to win over more voters in elections to come.

“It’s not going to make me work less – it’s going to make me work more. I’d like to get over 60 per cent by the next election (riding-wide). I’ll be looking at those polls across the district, at some of the places that maybe we didn’t do as goods as we wanted to, and I’ll just continue the outreach.”

READ MORE: Shypitka returned as Kootenay East MLA
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