Sonia Furstenau
(Sonia Furstenau/BC Green Party Youtube)

First-term MLA Sonia Furstenau was elected leader of the BC Green Party on Monday after emerging the victor on a second round ballot.

The leadership race saw an 85 per cent turnout of the party’s 5,478 members, who cast their votes using a ranked ballot system from September 5 to 13.

Three candidates were vying to replace outgoing leader Andrew Weaver, who left the party in January to sit as an independent, citing private health and family concerns.

In order to secure the leadership, a single candidate needed to receive 2,318 votes.

On the first ballot, Furstenau received 2,197 votes, while lawyer and adjunct professor Cam Brewer came in second with 1,916 votes.

Party Vice-Chair and former President of the Sechelt Chamber of Commerce Kim Darwin received 521 votes and was subsequently removed from the second round.

The second ballot saw Furstenau decisively win with 2,428 votes to Brewer’s 2,217.

In her acceptance speech on Monday, Furstenau thanked her campaign team and supporters for their work, as well her opponents.

“To Cam and Kim and their teams, I extend my congratulations on running solid campaigns until the very end,” she said.

The newly victorious Green leader had harsher words for BC’s Premier, accusing John Horgan of playing politics while the province is in the midst of two health emergencies.

“A completely unnecessary, irresponsible early election in the middle of a pandemic is being contemplated simply because it might benefit one party’s political fortunes,” said Furstenau.

“To John Horgan I say: you have a responsibility to govern, not play politics.”

Earlier on Monday, the Premier deflected questions about an early election while also saying he wished the then-unannounced leader of the Green Party all the best.

“This is challenging work, and I know that whoever becomes the leader of the Green Party will have a task ahead of them,” said Horgan.

“There’s much more to British Columbia than the political machinations that we’re talking about here.”