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Vicki Huntington’s historical win lone bright spot for independent candidates

Vicki Huntington, an independent in Delta South, made political history as the first independent MLA to be re-elected as an independent since political parties were recognized in 1903.


It was a bittersweet election for the province's four high-profile independents, who had hoped to make a statement that B.C.'s polarized political system had room for their non-party voices.

Vicki Huntington (Delta South) made political history as the first independent MLA to be re-elected as an independent since political parties were recognized in 1903.

However, incumbent MLAs Bob Simpson (Cariboo North) and John van Dongen (Abbotsford South) went down to defeat in their bid to win election as independents, after their decisions to bolt their own parties.

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Arthur Hadland, who had run strongly as an independent in Peace River North last election, trailed far behind Liberal incumbent Pat Pimm.

Still, Ms. Huntington was jubilant at her handsome triumph, knocking off Liberal challenger Bruce McDonald by more than 2,500 votes, compared with her razor-thin, 32-vote margin in 2009.

"It feels good," she said, after her victory was declared. "We ran a nice clean campaign, and I had so many good people working for me. I didn't make history. Delta South made history."

She said she now hoped to work together with Andrew Weaver of the Green Party, who also made history as the first member of his party to be elected provincially.

But even in victory, Ms. Huntington couldn't hide her disappointment at the losses of Mr. van Dongen and Mr. Simpson. "It's a crying shame," she said. "Bob Simpson, in particular, was one of the finest legislators in the House, and I think the entire province is the loser tonight. It's very upsetting."

The three independent MLAs had combined to produce a democratic-rights agenda for those elected to the legislature.

Mr. Simpson, who twice won Cariboo North for the the NDP, went down by about 500 votes to Coralee Oakes of the Liberals.

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"I'm not a lifelong politician, but I'm disappointed," he said late Tuesday. "I believe I served this constituency heart and soul for eight years, and I gave them an alternative. But the voters decided to go with the status quo."

Mr. Simpson admitted some discouragement that the party system seemed to have prevailed once again in the province.

"If you want democracy back, you can't keep voting for the way it is," he observed. "But the party system, with all its disinformation, is steeped in the way the public votes."

Mr. van Dongen, a five-time MLA for the Liberals, lost by a wide margin to prominent Liberal Darryl Plecas, a criminologist at the University of the Fraser Valley.

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