Newly elected Liberal MLA Jackie Tegart (right) with Christy Clark

Newly elected Liberal MLA Jackie Tegart (right) with Christy Clark

Jackie Tegart goes to Victoria

Newly-elected MLA, long-term Ashcroft resident Jackie Tegart, will represent Fraser Nicola in Victoria.

Ashcroft’s loss is BC’s gain. From first-time candidate for the BC Liberal Party to newly-elected MLA in just 28 days, Jackie Tegart soundly beat her opponent, incumbent MLA Harry Lali with a difference of 754 botes.

“Hol-y!” Tegart exclaimed the morning after the count. “We are so excited! As a team, we were all brand new. We’d never run a provincial election campaign. But we had a lot of heart, and I think that showed. We ran a clean campaign and the bonus was that we won.”

But Tegart will take her seat in the Legislature without the party’s leader, Christy Clark, who lost her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey to NDP candidate David Eby.

“She is an incredible leader,” Tegart says of Clark, who gathered a crowd of supporters at a rally in Ashcroft on May 2. “The success of this campaign clearly rests with her. But the NDP targeted her riding and it’s unfortunate.”

Until last week, Tegart was serving a third term on Ashcroft’s municipal council. She gave her notice to village administrator Michelle Allen the day after the election and it will be reviewed by the remainder of Council at their public meeting on May 27 at 7 pm.

Allen says once the Council accepts her resignation, they will appoint a Chief Electoral Officer to oversee a by-election for the empty Council seat. The by-election will likely take place in August. Next year is a Local Government election year (2014) and all seats will be up for election.

“To me,” she said, “my focus is to serve the riding. I’m not sure what that will look like provincially. I don’t go into it with an expectation. However I can best serve.”

Now that the hectic 28-day campaign is finished, Tegart says she will look for a balance between her personal life and life in the Legislature. First things first, she’s waiting to meet her newest grandchild.

“The process has been a real learning experience for us,” said Tegart. “There are similarities across the riding – more similarities than differences with issues like health, education, declining population… We need to look for solutions that will work for rural BC.”

The vote is still preliminary, but election night tallies left Tegart with 5,539 votes to incumbent NDP Harry Lali’s 4,785.

Swearing in for the new government is expected in early June.