Having been elected at the 11th count last time out Alan Chambers gained enough first preference votes in North Down this time round to be elected after the first count.
As expected Alex Easton topped the poll of first preference votes (8,034) as he did last May, and he returned to Stormont after the first votes were counted along with Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry (7,014).
Chambers more than doubled his votes from May from 3275 to 7151. He admitted he had not expected to be celebrating as early as it turned out.
He said: “I thought to be honest that North Down was going to be a case of four maybe five of us getting in without reaching the quota. I thought it was going to be a tight election.
“It’s a good result for me personally and I think also that it’s a good result for the party in North Down. Our share of the vote went up from just over 14% to just over 21%, a major achievement for the team I had round me. The party share went up 62%.
He said he had a good feeling going before the results were announced.
The former independent candidate explained: “Normally on election day you don’t get a whole lot of reaction from people, but yesterday I must say that there was a lot of handshakes, a lot of people pumping the horn, lowering their windows to speak to me who didn’t have to, so you get that sort of good feeling that you could be ona bit of a roll.”
He added: “I’m here to the death. Until Philip Smith is elected in Strangford I’ll njot be leaving. I’m very, very hopeful Philip can get in. The last time Philip was quite despondent around about lunchtime on Friday and I told him it’s not over until the fat lady sings. And lo and behold he, made it in. I’m hopeful for him today that the same thing can happen, that transfers will go his way.”
“What I’ve been saying to all my friends and family is when the results are coming out don’t be getting either elated or depressed with the first two that are elected in every constituency because the favourites will get in no matter what, the interesting ones, if there is going to be any change, is the third, fourth and fifth candidates, and nobody but noody can predict that given the way transfers go.”