A brief history of local voting

Historical trivia compiled for 103.5 The Bridge’s election night coverage, readapted (regurgitated?) for this column.

Bert Herridge spent a record 23 years as MP for Kootenay West. Nelson’s Herridge Lane is named after him.

Bert Herridge spent a record 23 years as MP for Kootenay West. Nelson’s Herridge Lane is named after him.

Historical trivia compiled for 103.5 The Bridge’s election night coverage, readapted (regurgitated?) for this column:

Ridings West Kootenay has been part of: Yale 1871-96, Yale-Cariboo 1896-1903, Kootenay 1903-17, Kootenay West 1917-88, Kootenay West-Revelstoke 1988-97, West Kootenay-Okanagan 1997-98, Kootenay-Boundary-Okanagan 1998-2004, and BC Southern Interior 2004-Present. Portions of West Kootenay were moved to Kootenay-Columbia in 2004.

First MPs and lowest individual vote total: B.C. became a province in 1871. West Kootenay (although the term had not yet been coined) belonged to the Yale riding and was initially represented in parliament by Charles Houghton, who won by acclamation.

The following year Edgar Dewdney of Dewdney Trail fame defeated Robert Smith by a vote of 43 to 19. Smith’s total was the lowest ever by a local candidate.

Smallest percentage of the vote: Valerie Phaire-Smith of the Libertarian Party earned 119 votes in Kootenay West in 1979, accounting for 0.04 per cent of the total.

Biggest landslide, by percentage: Robert Green was elected in Kootenay West in 1911 with 64 per cent.

Biggest landslide, by votes: In 2006, the NDP’s Alex Atamanenko finished more than 13,000 ahead of Liberal Bill Profili. In 2004, in Kootenay Columbia, Conservative Jim Abbott beat New Democrat Brent Bush by nearly 12,000 votes.

Closest race: In BC Southern Interior in 2004, incumbent Conservative Jim Gouk beat NDP challenger Alex Atamanenko by less than 700 votes — 36.6 per cent to 35.1.

Last time a Liberal was elected: You have to go back a little bit: to 1904, when William Galliher was elected in Kootenay. He did not seek another term.

The best showing by a Liberal recently was in 2006, when Rossland’s Bill Profili won 20 per cent of the vote in BC Southern Interior.

Best showing by the Greens: 2006 in BC Southern Interior, when Scott Leyland, running for the second time, pulled in over 5,200 votes, which was more than 11 per cent of ballots cast.

Longest sitting local MP, most consecutive victories: CCFer and New Democrat Bert Herridge, the legendary Squire of Kootenay West, ran unsuccessfully in 1935 and 1940, but was elected in 1945 and served through 1968, during which time he won eight straight elections.

Female candidates: No woman has ever represented West Kootenay in parliament. None has even finished second.

The first to run was Matilda Belanger of the Labour-Progressive Party in Kootenay West in 1953. She received 347 votes and finished a distant fifth. Prior to that, Margaret Oliver of Nelson put her name forward for the Liberal nomination in 1944, but lost.

The second woman to run was Nelson city councillor Edith Van Maarion in Kootenay West in 1963. Running for Social Credit, she finished fourth and last, but collected nearly 20 per cent of the vote, which was the best showing ever percentage-wise.

The best showing in terms of placing was by the NDP’s Heather Suggitt in 1993. She finished third, but only collected a little over 15 per cent of the vote.

Most candidates: Nine in Kootenay West-Revelstoke in 1993. Eight in West Kootenay-Okanagan in 1997, Kootenay-Boundary-Okanagan in 2000, and BC Southern Interior in 2004. Since then things have quietened down.

Atamanenko hat trick:

In winning his third consecutive election Monday night, New Democrat Alex Atamanenko has now knocked off all three men who ran for the Conservative nomination in BC Southern Interior in 2005: Derek Zeisman, Rob Zandee, and Stephen Hill.

Greg Nesteroff is a reporter for the Nelson Star. He can be reached at reporter2@nelsonstar.com.