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Sam Sullivan claims Vancouver-False Creek

Key riding wasn’t decided upon until after midnight
sam sullivan may 9, 2017
Sam Sullivan, with wife Lynn Zanatta, held his Vancouver-False Creek seat after a tense election night that saw the vote shift back and forth between Sullivan and NDP opponent Morgane Oger. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Vancouver-False Creek has experienced a Liberal three-peat by the slimmest of margins.

Incumbent Sam Sullivan held onto his seat by less than 600 votes in a riding that was scrutinized and agonized over into the waning hours of election night. 

Sullivan ultimately won with 9,332 votes (42.57 per cent) compared to his nearest competitor, NDP candidate Morgane Oger, who ended up with 8,772 votes or 40 per cent, according to unofficial results. The Green Party’s Bradley Shende received 16 per cent of the vote (3,448).

“I looked at my team and thought, ‘This little group has made a big difference in the direction of the province,’” Sullivan said.

A former Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) chair, Oger was in the running to become the first transgender MLA in B.C. history. Oger didn’t speak to media on election night, or the day after.

She instead released a statement on Facebook on the evening of May 10.

“I am very proud of my team's imaginative and effective campaign which wildly exceeded all expectations,” the statement said. “At this time, we are awaiting the results of the absentee ballot counts before my team reaches a final conclusion about the outcome of this contest and any eventual next steps.”

Large parts of election night saw the vote swing marginally back and forth between the two frontrunners. Very seldom did the split move in favour of either candidate by more than 400 votes over the course of the evening.

Like virtually every one of his Liberal counterparts, Sullivan campaigned almost exclusively around dollars and cents. A single mother of two, Oger campaigned on the promise of creating more affordable housing, overhauling the public education funding model and bolstering the small business sector.

“Certainly, I spoke about our fiscal prudence and the Liberal focus on the economy,” Sullivan said. 

Sullivan also stressed his track record in public life: he served as a Vancouver city councillor from 1993 to 2005 and in the mayor’s chair from 2006 to 2009. The former NPA mayor is now the vice chair of the Rick Hansen Institute and is a member of the Order of Canada.

Sullivan cruised to victory with relative ease in 2013, capturing 52 per cent of the vote and defeating NDP candidate Matt Toner by more than 3,200 votes. Mary McNeil walked away with the seat in 2009, claiming 56 per cent of the vote compared to the 27 per cent garnered by the NDP’s Jordan Parente. Sullivan narrowly beat former two-term Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt to represent the riding after incumbent McNeil chose not to run again.

Just before polls closed Tuesday, Sullivan told the Courier that he goes into every election with decidedly low expectations.

“What I do is I imagine I’m going to lose,” he said. “I get through my stages of grieving, rejection, denial and finally acceptance.”

Whether Oger returns to her post as DPAC chair remains to be seen. She was granted a leave of absence in the fall of 2016 when she chose to pursue to provincial politics.

“For now, I will redouble my efforts as an advocate for public education, housing affordability, and justice for all,” her statement reads.

Note — This story has been updated since first published.

@JohnKurucz