Vancouver–Mount Pleasant Green candidate Jerry Kroll hosted a viewing party at his Kingsgate Mall constituency office last night (May 9) as the votes rolled in. Attendance fluctuated from 15 to 30 people, making for an intimate gathering that included pizza and campaign T-shirts. But the crowd was not tense; instead, a feeling of satisfaction enveloped the room.
In Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, Kroll finished second with 17 percent to the NDP’s Melanie Mark, who was reelected with 65 percent voter support.
Campaign strategist for Vancouver headquarters Matthew Unger, said he was impressed with the general voter turnout he witnessed on election day.
“The amount of young voters that have never voted before in their mid-20s that were so stoked to vote was something that I’ve never seen before,” said Unger. “We didn’t focus on telling people to vote Green, we told people to do some research and just vote.”
Unger added that he did not know Kroll before joining the Vancouver–Mount Pleasant team.
“I was like: ‘This guy is running for office?’ He’s definitely not your normal candidate. But I’ve previously managed five campaigns and this has been the most fun. Jerry really knows how to get things done, which has been very refreshing to see.”
Among the attendees was Victoria–Swan Lake Green voter Sharon Bool. She said that the “energized” Victoria rallies she participated in gave her hope that culminated in her coming to Kroll's party. She described B.C. Green candidates Adam Olsen and Mark Neufeld as hopeful and dynamic figures whom she could put her trust in.
“When I think about Site C and the tankers, I feel sick to my stomach thinking about the Liberals getting back in power. How can they condone these things?” she said, visibly emotional. Bool said she’s looking for a leader who will advocate for sustainable energy, not destructive projects.
Later in the evening, Vancouver-Hastings first-time candidate David Wong entered the building, with friends and family in tow.
“What is so wrong about wanting a better world for your kids? We should be moving forward, not borrowing for tomorrow from yesterday’s ideas,” Wong said.
As an affordable housing activist and advocate for First Nations people across the province, Wong prefers collaboration over vitriol.
‘The truth is, at the beginning, I thought what the hell am I doing? I was attacked, vandalized, even called the ‘token China man,'” Wong said. "But as I continued my resolve grew stronger and I realized that we’re better than this.”
In Wong’s riding, NDP MLA Shane Simpson was re-elected, and will be serving his fourth term. B.C. Liberal Jane Spitz took second place, followed by Wong. The Greens made gains in Vancouver-Hastings, climbing from 11 to 17 percent .
“I feel like I’ve already won,” Wong told the Straight at the party. “I’ve gotten to say what I wanted to say. But I would do it all over again because of my volunteer team; they breathed life into this campaign.”