Minutes before the winner of the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain NDP nomination was announced, contender Chris Wilson was anxiously pacing the gym at Nestor Elementary.
Just a few moments later at 4: 30 p.m., he breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The former Olympic wrestler and current KidSport Tri-Cities chair and Operation Red Nose coordinator had secured the nomination Sunday as the NDP candidate in the upcoming election.
He narrowly defeated high-profile candidate and rocker Joe Keithley in a four-way race that also included former Coquitlam councillor Barrie Lynch and Vincent Wu.
"I totally love Coquitlam," an emotional Wilson said following his victory.
"To be in a position to represent this community is phenomenal."
He credited Keithley for running a great campaign, but suggested support from other local NDP politicians like MP Fin Donnelly and Coquitlam Coun. Selina Robinson helped seal the victory.
"I think what helped me was my involvement in the community," Wilson said.
The local constituency did not release the final tally of votes to the media, but it was noted membership grew in the riding to 600 from 40 before the race.
Keithley said he was disappointed with the result, but added he believes Wilson is a good candidate to beat current Liberal MLA Doug Horne.
The rocker-turned-political-hopeful pinned Wilson's success on being in the community for years.
Keithley lives in Burnaby, but suggested he would have moved to the riding had he won a seat in the legislature.
He said he's not sure what his political future will hold, but hinted he isn't finished with politics.
Wilson said his goal now is to put together a campaign team, set up office space and round up volunteers for the campaign.
As for his competition, the newly minted candidate said he has a lot of respect for Horne but not his party, and is looking forward to a fair and honest campaign.
In the meantime, Horne called Wilson a "very nice fellow" and said he believes the campaign will be about the issues and each party's vision going forward.
The MLA said his focus in the campaign will be on his own record in the last four years and his accomplishments, like the ground breaking on the Evergreen Line.
With 10 weeks left before voters head to the polls, the NDP has all four Tri-Cities candidates in place, including MLAs Mike Farnworth and Joe Trasolini for Port Coquitlam and Port Moody-Coquitlam, respectively, and Selina Robinson replacing retiring MLA Diane Thorne in Coquitlam-Maillardville.
The Liberals have two of their four candidates in place, including Horne in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and Coquitlam Coun. Linda Reimer in Port Moody-Coquitlam.
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