KELOWNA (NEWS1130) – Premier Christy Clark has a seat once again in British Columbia’s legislature, cruising to a commanding victory in tonight’s byelection in the riding of Westside-Kelowna.

Elections BC reports Clark won with 62.7 per cent of the popular vote. Her closest opponent, the NDP’s Carole Gordon, earned 29.66 per cent of the vote. Sean Upshaw, representing the BC Conservatives, secured 5.81 per cent.

Preliminary voting results show 17,012 ballots were cast.

Clark admits the campaigning never really comes to an end. “If you want to run a government that reflects the public, you need to talk to citizens on a regular basis. I won’t be doing it as intensely, but I’m not going to miss it because I’m going to keep doing it.”

She is glad she can finally concentrate on governing. “Hopefully, the writ will be returned, I’ll go back to the legislature, we’re going to pass this balanced budget and get that out of the way. I have a premier’s meeting at the end of month and a trade mission to Asia.”

In her victory speech, the premier made sure to stress how she will fight to earn the support of everyone in the riding, including those who voted against her.

Her remarks include a parade of promises aimed at locals. “A Westside Road that is as safe as it is scenic… a long-term solution for McDougall Creek… starting the planning for a second crossing.”

For the rest of the province, Clark says the top job is to get back to the Legislature to pass the budget, and then a premier’s conference at the end of the month, followed by another trade mission to Asia.

“I can deliver for Westside-Kelowna, and I’m going to do it,” says Clark.

She looks at representing a riding in the BC Interior as a unique opportunity. “It is important, I think, to have a premier from outside the Lower Mainland. I think it really changes the way we govern.”

As for Ben Stewart, the man who stepped aside so Clark could run, the premier says she will keep him on in an advisory role as she delves further into the issues in the Central Okanagan.

Clark was largely credited with engineering the surprising come-from-behind Liberal win in May’s provincial election, but she lost her own seat in her Vancouver-Point Grey riding. Clark’s determined and charismatic campaign style propelled the Liberals to a fourth consecutive mandate even though pollsters forecast an Opposition New Democrat win.

Former Westside-Kelowna Liberal MLA Ben Stewart stepped aside shortly after the May election, paving the way for Clark to run in the Okanagan city, where two former premiers, W.A.C. Bennett and Bill Bennett were also elected.

The University of the Fraser Valley’s Hamish Telford says it wasn’t exactly the toughest fight of Clark’s political career. “It has been a safe Liberal seat for a long time. If the people of Westside-Kelowna were inclined to support a Liberal back in May, it stands to reason they would want the premier to represent them now.”

“Once again she has proven herself as a very good campaigner. Now she has to show people that she can govern,” he adds.