Local Saskatchewan New Democrat candidate Michelle Oleksyn took it in stride knowing she finished a distant second to Saskatchewan Party incumbent MLA Colleen Young in the provincial election.
Young took the seat with 4,340 votes to 410 for Oleksyn as the Saskatchewan Party won its third majority with 51 seats in the April 4 election.
The NDP won 10 seats, just one more than they previously held.
“Of course, we’re disappointed but you have to trust the voters,” said Oleksyn about the overall outcome.
Oleksyn captured 8.2 per cent of the vote to 86.7 per cent for Young in 61 riding polls.
“I think we had felt that we were going to make more gains than we actually did,” she said about her party’s prospects.
“As I said, we’ve got to respect the voters and we really need to regroup and move forward.”
The Lloydminster Comprehensive High School teacher was back in class the next morning pleased that she ran a good campaign as a newcomer to politics.
“For being my first time around at it, I know I came out of it with my integrity and I feel good about it,” she said.
She didn’t think there was anything more she could have done.
Oleksyn finished ahead of Liberal Party candidate Dolores Pahtayken who had 191 votes and Green Party candidate Lisa Grant with 64 votes.
Oleksyn’s campaign was directed by Dan Bader, a Yukon NDP field organizer who was excited about what the NDP were doing in Saskatchewan and jumped at the chance to lead a campaign.
“I decided to take a bit of time off my job up north and come down and help out,” said Bader at the NDP campaign office Monday night.
Bader said he was impressed by what he sees as their solid record of fiscal management and balanced budgets while providing all of the services people rely on.
He said he didn’t think that’s been the case for Sask Party the last eight years.
As a campaign manager, Bader did a lot of the planning and scheduling as well as organizing volunteers and engaging with voters on social media.
“Our campaign was about using the Internet to bring people to the traditional campaign,” said Bader.
“Getting out and talking to people on the phone and at the doors is still the most important part.”
He said they use that Internet connection to bring people into that campaign and advertised on places like Facebook and Twitter.
Oleksyn said since she was nominated last April she’s been out and about in the community to make voters aware of who she is.
“I met lots of interesting people and I had lots of interesting conversations,” she said.
“It was a great experience.”
Oleksyn will remain on the local executive committee and will continue to support the party.
She said she will also think about running for office again but isn’t committed to it. She is supported in her efforts by her husband of 24 years and their three adult children.
“Four years is a long way away and a lot can happen between now and then,” she said.
She said right now she is focusing on getting back to work and will continue “working as a constituency” along with her commitment to the party’s supporters.
“We do have supporters and we’ll just keep moving forward,” she said.
“The province isn’t ready for change yet, but when they are we’ll be ready for it.”