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Herbert wins in Vancouver-West End

VANCOUVER - "There should be 20 more of you!" a young man yelled at Spencer Herbert, patting him on the back as Vancouver-West End's new MLA made his way through a crowded room of supporters at Vancouver's Coast Plaza Hotel tonight. Herbert handily brought the NDP to victory in the new riding, dominating with 7,663 votes with 146 of 154 ballot boxes reporting. As of that count, Herbert beat out BC Liberal opponent Laura McDiarmid by 3,128 votes. Green Party candidate Drina Read trailed with 1,287 votes.

A former COPE park board commissioner, Herbert won the Vancouver-Burrard by-election last fall. He replaced former BC Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt when he left the riding to run with the federal Conservatives in Vancouver Centre.

Herbert's provincial campaign focused heavily on providing a voice for renters in his riding, many of whom sought his support in fighting ongoing rent increases and mass evictions in the neighbourhood that Herbert has attributed to loopholes in the Residential Tenancy Act. He also lent support to fellow members of the LGBT community in efforts to combat homophobic violence against the riding's large queer community.

As the first MLA for Vancouver-West End, Herbert, at age 27, is also the province's youngest MLA. "It presents some challenges," he told the Tyee. "Some, on the Liberal side of the floor, have been pretty dismissive, have been patronizing, condescending - but it just means I have to do my homework to the nth degree to really show them what I'm talking about is backed up by the facts, backed up by the community...hopefully that gets them to listen. It makes me work harder."

Herbert prided himself on a campaign that he said worked across party lines, and hopes to continue doing so in Victoria. "Hopefully, some of the new Liberals who have been elected will listen to our concerns about the mass evictions, massive rent increases, our concerns about the closing or moving of St. Paul's Hospital, and our concerns about massive homelessness," he said.

Despite his own victory, Herbert said it's "hard to say" what will become of the New Democrats in the wake of Carole James' defeat. In the meantime, Herbert's staff and supporters are still buzzing with what they see as the dawn of a new era: "Goodbye, Vancouver-Burrard," they cheered. "Hello, Vancouver-West End."

Jackie Wong reports for the WestEnder.

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