For Harwinder Sandhu’s daughter’s birthday, the best gift came after lunch.
Sandhu, running for the NDP, was officially elected as Vernon-Monashee MLA Sunday, Nov. 8, after mail-in and absentee ballots were counted over two-and-a-half days.
The Vernon nurse garnered 10,222 votes to unseat three-term Liberal incumbent Eric Foster, who collected 9,798 votes, a difference of 424 votes. Sandhu becomes the first NDP candidate to win the riding since the 1980s. She had trailed Foster by 182 votes at the end of election night, Oct. 24.
The result came on her daughter Jasreen’s 14th birthday.
“This has been a week of mixed emotions because Nov. 6 was the 10th anniversary of my first husband’s death, Jasreen turned four just two days after it, but to win on her birthday, she said that was the biggest gift of all,” said Sandhu from her home. She was so busy accepting congratulations that she missed a call to her cell phone from NDP Premier John Horgan.
Her first call of congratulations came from a gracious Foster.
“We had a great talk,” said Sandhu. “I thanked him for his years of service. I want to work with him to get this feedback and he’s got so much experience. He gave me some advice about how hard the job can be for people with young families.”
Working in the healthcare profession, she said, will prepare her for her new role in Victoria.
“In healthcare, you walk into the unpredictable every day,” said Sandhu. “You hit the ground running. I’m looking forward to making Vernon-Monashee proud for everybody, not just those who voted for me.”
Horgan phoned Sandhu election night and got an earful about issues in the riding.
“He said how proud he was of our team and how the voting showed that people could see potential in us. We had a great conversation,” said Sandhu.
Foster was upbeat but understandably disappointed when contacted after the result.
“I’m OK,” he said. “It’s always unfortunate when you don’t cross the finish line in first place. But Harwinder did a great job and she’ll do a great job in Victoria. I wish her nothing but the best. It will be an exciting next four years.”
Asked about his future, Foster said he will go to Victoria and clean out his office and apartment, then return to his home in Lumby that he shares with his wife, Janice.
“I’ll sit down and put my feet up for a bit but we are going to be involved in the community,” he said. “We’re not going to hide in our backyard.”
Green Party candidate Keli Westgate finished third in the riding with 4,464 votes while Conservative Kyle Delfing was fourth with 3,472 votes.