It was a decisive victory Saturday, Oct. 24 in the Cariboo for the two BC Liberal Party candidates who are projected to sweep both ridings in the 2020 snap BC Election.
Prior to the mail-in ballot count, Cariboo North incumbent Coralee Oakes garnered 49.41 per cent of the vote, or 4,503 votes, while Cariboo Chilcotin newcomer Lorne Doerkson captured 52.18 per cent of the vote, or 5,262 votes.
In the Cariboo North riding, BC NDP candidate Scott Elliott received 32.61 per cent of the votes, followed by Conservative Kyle Townsend at 11.54 per cent and BC Green Party Douglas Gook at 6.43 per cent.
In the Cariboo Chilcotin riding, BC NDP candidate Scott Andrews garnered 31.42 per cent of the votes, followed by BC Green Party David Laing at 10.26 per cent, Independent Katya Potekhina at 3.89 per cent and Libertarian James Buckley at 2.25 per cent.
Brand new to politics the soon-to-be-MLA Doerkson said he’s very excited about the projected win.
“Nov. 16 is obviously a big day because that’s when we’ll know the official outcome of the election and then we’ll also know when we are going to get sworn in so we can get busy and get down to work.”
Doerkson nervously paced the floor in an empty office space in downtown Williams Lake Saturday night as the 2020 Election Day results rolled in.
Except for his co-campaign manager Bryan Withage and his partner, Shelley Wiese, and a late-night visit from scrutineers Walt Cobb and Anita Crosina, the night was quiet due to COVID-19.
Doerkson, a longtime avid volunteer in the lakecity with Rotary and the Stampede association, said it was 11-year veteran, BC Liberal Party MLA Donna Barnett, who first urged him to run for office.
“She was pretty tenacious about the whole thing, and so were others.”
Many residents approached Doerkson, telling him he was made for the role, he said.
“I felt pretty humbled by that,” said Doerkson.
“To be honest, in the end I thought ‘maybe I am made for this.’ I love community service. I love the feeling of helping somebody, and I’m attracted to that, so I’m excited about it.”
Some of the biggest challenges he sees facing the riding are land use and rights and title, long-term care for seniors as well as a lack of daycare, however, he is also ready to dig into some of the many lesser known issues he heard while campaigning in the region.
“We know the big issues, and it’s not that those issues aren’t really important, but there are also many other issues that are really big for the people that it involves,” Doerkson said, noting lack of transportation options for seniors needing to travel for medical appointment, for example.
“My heart really goes out to those seniors … some of those issues, I can’t wait to get working on.”
Doerkson along with Oakes, who resides in Quesnel but represents the north end of the lakecity as well as Likely, Horsefly, Miocene and Fox Mountain, will be some of the few BC Liberals with a seat in the Legislature, as the NDP are projected to form a majority government as a result of the election, which saw a historically-low voter turnout at 52.4 per cent province-wide.
But, Doerkson said he’s not intimidated by that.
“I think the NDP made it clear on election night, and I hope that their promise stays, but they certainly said they’re there to represent everybody — likewise so am I. I think we have to work together to move the needle on some of these issues.”
Doerkson, who voiced his concern for ranchers impacted by the Tsilhqot’in rights and title decision during his campaign, said he plans to reach out to all the First Nations communities in the riding to hear their voices as well.
“I am sincere when I say that I want to represent everybody in the riding and I think that the thing we have to focus on out there more than anything is conversation,” he said.
“When two parties are not talking how much do you expect to get done? I’m going to work hard to build a relationship with those folks that I can help. For me, anything I can do for the community is a plus.”