Christy Clark edges Kevin Falcon to become premier 

New Liberal leader second female Premier in B.C. history

B.C.'s premier -elect Christy Clark will focus on job creation and families as she moves to consolidate her leadership in the province.

Though she started with a considerable lead in the polls her numbers didn't carry through the election process, however, Clark still had a handy lead over her closest rival Minister Kevin Falcon.

The ruling B.C. Liberal Party held its election on Saturday to replace Gordon Campbell, after almost tripling membership in the months leading up to the vote. The party went with a ranked voting system as usual, but for the first time each riding was given 100 votes towards the selection of the leaders, based on how members voted. That system was created to ensure that the entire province would be represented equally with the more heavily populated areas like Vancouver and Victoria.

In the points system that was adopted Christy Clark won 37.76 per cent of the votes in the first round, well short of the 50.01 per cent needed to win by acclaim. Kevin Falcon was a distant second with 28.37 per cent, followed by George Abbott with 24.60 per cent. Mike de Jong received the fewest votes and was eliminated for the second round recount.

Clark's lead grew to 42.05 per cent while Falcon had 30.17 per cent. Abbott was dropped from the third round of counting with 27.78 per cent.

In the final round, with only Clark and Falcon remaining, Clark took 4,420 points to Falcon's 4,080 (based on 8,500 total points), or 52 per cent of the ballots.

Falcon was the favourite in the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky Riding through all three rounds, and was backed by riding MLA Joan McIntyre earlier in the race. (See sidebar for more).

Clark will lead the Liberal Party through the next election in summer 2013 - and possibly earlier - and is inheriting a number of issues, including the controversial Harmonized Sales Tax, a budget deficit and unhappiness over rising fees and utility rates.

Clark, who has yet to address the media, released this statement to party members on her website: "I would like to invite you to join me in bringing open government to B.C. and to help build a government that puts families first. It is a great honour to have been selected as your premier and I am looking forward to working in partnership with you to bring constructive change to our government."

Clark has moved quickly, meeting with MLAs on Monday, with more one-on-one meetings planned through the week.

"This was an internal race, and one of the things that all the candidates agreed at the outset is that we wanted to be united at the end, and that we would have one common goal," said McIntyre. "(The goal) is to continue to provide the free enterprise coalition government that we have delivered for the past decade."

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