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Melanie Mark tops polls in Vancouver byelection race

NDP candidate will be first indigenous woman to serve in legislature
The NDP’s Melanie Mark, seen her campaigning on Main Street, won the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant byelection Tuesday night. Photo Dan Toulgoet

The NDP’s Melanie Mark is Vancouver-Mount Pleasant’s new MLA and will become the first indigenous woman to serve in the B.C. legislature.

Preliminary results indicate the 40-year-old former associate deputy to B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth easily won Tuesday night's Vancouver-Mount Pleasant byelection race with 61 per cent of the vote. Green Party candidate Pete Fry finished second, winning 26 per cent of the vote. The Liberals' Gavin Dew finished a distant third with 11 per cent.

“I’ve never worked so hard to get a job,” Mark told the Courier during the campaign.

Mark campaigned on making the riding more affordable and called for measures to protect the community’s most vulnerable children and adults. The riding, which includes the Downtown Eastside, is believed to be the poorest in B.C.

Mark’s aboriginal heritage is a mix of Cree, Ojibway, Gitxsan and Nisga’a. She was born in Vancouver and raised in various social housing buildings on the East Side. During the campaign, she talked about a childhood in which she was exposed to domestic violence and drug abuse by her parents; her father died of a drug overdose when she was 23 and her mother, who has battled addictions, has been sober for 10 years and played a part in Mark’s campaign.

A self-described fighter, Mark holds a political science degree from SFU and spent eight years working alongside Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth.

The NDP has held the riding -- in its various forms -- for more than 80 years but the seat was left vacant when Jenny Kwan resigned to run successfully for MP in Vancouver-East in last fall’s federal election.