UPDATE, 1: 40 a.m.: Harold Kim is praising his volunteers as they watch the results of the evening close race continue to come in.
“The biggest highlight is the relationships that I’ve built up with the volunteers and the team. A campaign doesn’t happen without the volunteers and the selfless volunteers that stepped up, it’s just amazing,” Kim said, looking back on the past few weeks.
When asked if he would have done anything differently, the Conservative candidate said he thinks they did everything they could. For Kim that meant personally knocking on 7,500 doors, most of which were in Newmarket.
“Two thirds of the riding is in Newmarket, so it just makes sense to spend a lot of time where I may not be as well known,” he said.
The event at Cachet wrapped up shortly after 1 a.m. with supporters not yet knowing what the final result will be.
“There’s still a lot of votes to be counted, so it’s hard to say. A lot of emotions going on. I’m just happy to see and celebrate with the team,” Kim said. “It’s hard to say how I feel, I’m just happy that we gave it 110 per cent and I’m happy about that.”
At 1:40 a.m., with 89 per cent of 182 polls reporting, Liberal Tony Van Bynen has 18,229 votes (43 per cent), Harold Kim has 16,133 votes (38 per cent), NDP Yvonne Kelly has 5,159 votes (12.2 per cent), People Party Andre Gagnon has 1,922 votes (4.4 per cent), Green Tim Flemming has 847 votes (1.9 per cent) and Independent Dorian Baxter has 211 votes (0.5 per cent).
UPDATE, 12:45 a.m.: With 140 of 182 (76.92 per cent) polls reporting, Tony Van Bynen maintains a lead with 14,505 votes (42.5 per cent) to Harold Kim's 12,844 votes (37.7 per cent).
With less than 2,000 votes separating Liberal incumbent Tony Van Bynen from Conservative Harold Kim, the close race doesn’t come as a surprise for some.
“I knew Newmarket-Aurora is traditionally a major swing riding. When the prime minister came here a couple times that was a sign that it would be a close race. I think a lot of the polling companies were saying it would be a close race,” said Conservative supporter Darryl Wolk, who has been volunteering with Kim’s campaign.
“It’s definitely broken down to be a close race with the overwhelming majority of the votes going to the Conservatives and the Liberals,” he said. “I would say if I was initially surprised it would probably be that I expected the NDP and the PPC to be a bit more of a factor.”
NDP Yvonne Kelly is in third place with 4,343 votes (12.7 per cent) and People's Party of Canada's Andre Gagnon with 1,535 votes (4.5 per cent), Green Tim Flemming with 697 votes (2 per cent) and Independent Dorian Baxter with 167 votes (0.5 per cent).
Wolk also responded to news that the Liberal party is projected to win on a national level. “There was some initial hope when the results started coming in Atlantic Canada. It was good to see the Conservative Party make some gains out east. But we knew that the election was going to be decided in the golden horseshoe,” he said.
Kim's supporters, including Aurora Tom Mrakas, continue to mingle and chat in a relaxed manner group at the Cachet patio, paying little attention when Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole's concession speech played on the big screen television.
Kim is expected to speak shortly.
As polls close across the country and the results begin to filter in, Newmarket-Aurora Conservatives are feeling confident their candidate Harold Kim has overcome one of the biggest challenges facing him in the 2021 federal election.
Following his nomination defeating longtime candidate and former Newmarket-Aurora MP Lois Brown, Kim’s biggest challenge was that he wasn’t as well known in Newmarket, which makes up the majority of the riding, Matt Buist, the local Conservative association president, said.
“I was a little concerned at the beginning because he was from Aurora, which represents less than a quarter of our Newmarket-Aurora riding but he’s worked very, very hard,” he said.
People were ready for a change, he said.
Kim and his supporters will be gathering in Newmarket at Cachet Supper Club to watch the results come in tonight on the patio, where a large screen has been set up and Harold Kim signs have been hung on the railing.
The race is tight, as predicted by pollsters, with Liberal candidate and incumbent MP Tony Van Bynen taking a slight early lead with 23 of 182 polls reporting at 11 p.m., at 1,619 votes (42.1 per cent) to Kim's 1,496 (38.9 per cent).
Kim has served as a town councillor in Aurora since 2014 and in 2018 received the most votes in the municipal election and became the town’s deputy mayor.
He stepped away from his role on council to serve as the candidate for the Conservative Party in Newmarket-Aurora when the election was officially called.
Despite the tight nomination race, Buist said the local party members have backed Kim completely.
“The team has come together under his candidacy and they’ve worked hard and deservedly so. He’s been a great candidate and we’re excited to have him on our team and as our candidate and it’s been nothing but a good reaction, I feel,” he said.
Buist said Kim has put in the work over the past few weeks to connect with voters and has knocked on thousands of doors.
“He’s certainly overcome the lack of profile, the lack of recognition which was certainly there at the beginning of the campaign and he’s come forward and he’s done a wonderful job and we’re very optimistic for a positive outcome,” he said.
Kim kicked off the race and presence in Newmarket by opening his campaign office at 11 Main St. South in the heart of downtown.
According to Buist, one of the biggest differences between Kim’s campaign and the one the Conservatives ran in the last election was social media.
“He’s made a very credible appearance by videos on social media which has made a big difference. We had a very poor performance on social media in 2019 but the team came to the forefront this time and there’s been a number of videos that he’s made,” he said. “The first one addressed a very important outlet which was seniors in retirement homes, and that was very well received. That was followed up by more specific videos detailing parts of the Conservative campaign and platform.”
However, the campaign hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
Early on they were found to be in violation of Newmarket bylaws when they put up election signs on Aug. 17, even though they weren’t permitted to be posted until 28 days before the election.
Kim’s campaign responded quickly citing a miscommunication with the town and immediately removed the signs until they were legally able to be put out again.
The candidate also faced criticism for missing two different events, the Aurora Chamber of Commerce debate on Sept. 8 and the Aurora Public Library all-candidates meeting on Sept. 14.
He responded to the criticism at the time saying “the demands of an election campaign force me to make difficult choices on what events I am able to attend” and added that he is involved and committed to the community.
While he has stepped back from his role as deputy mayor of Aurora, if he is unsuccessful in this election he will be able to return to council.- With files from Joseph Quigley