Mark Wasyliw will pack up his trustee's desk at the Winnipeg School Division, as voters in Fort Garry have decided to send him instead to the legislature.
Wasyliw, 47, ran in the 42nd provincial general election with the Manitoba New Democratic Party and was elected on Tuesday evening with 3,994 ballots cast in his favour, or 42.3 per cent of the vote, with all polls reporting.
"We had a strong result tonight so that’s very humbling, I’m just catching my breath," Wasyliw said, shortly after arriving at the NDP celebration at The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre.
The father of three from Crescentwood has served as a WSD trustee since 2011 and was acclaimed in Ward 3 in the 2018 municipal election. He is also a practising lawyer at Bueti Wasyliw Wiebe, where he is a founding partner.
In a race with no incumbent, Wasyliw defeated Progressive Conservative candidate Nancy Cooke to take the seat. Voters in Fort Garry cast ballots in favour of Cooke 2,998 times but at the end of the night the traditionally left-leaning neighbourhood stuck with the status quo.
"Congratulations to Mark on a hard-fought race," the 52-year-old from St. Vital said in a statement to The Sou’wester. "I really enjoyed my time at the doors and the opportunity to meet with the people of Fort Garry."
During the summer campaign, the south central constituency was hotly contested, with the newly drawn electoral division absorbing neighbourhoods previously represented by the PCs in Fort Richmond and the Liberals in River Heights. The Fort Garry riding was created as part of the 2018 Electoral Boundaries Commission. It includes the neighbourhoods of Earl Grey, north of Grant Avenue, parts of Grant Park, Beaumont, Wildwood, Maybank, Chevrier, and Southwood.
From 2011 to 2019, most of the constituency was represented by NDP MLA James Allum, who did not seek re-election.
Wasyliw said he was surprised by just how far he was able to pull ahead of his nearest competitor.
"We were talking to lifelong Conservatives and lifelong Liberals and they were coming our way," Wasyliw said. "I’m going to have to work very hard to keep the trust of the people who have now voted for me.
"South Winnipeg has been neglected by the Conservative party and you really felt that; that they wanted somebody to have a strong voice and that they’d been left behind," he added.
Overall, the NDP secured 18 seats across the province to remain the official opposition. With the gain in ground, Wasyliw said the party is moving in the right direction and can see the "beginning of the end of the Pallister government."
"There's a reason he called the election now. I think if he waited another year you would see way more NDP seats tonight," he said. "Four years from now they're going to be in a great deal of trouble."
Liberal candidate Craig Larkins, 39, earned modest support from voters in Fort Garry with 1,716 ballots cast. The Green Party of Manitoba’s Casey Fennessy received 722 votes.
Voter turnout in Fort Garry was 63.8 per cent.