SNP hold and Tory gain in by-election

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The Scottish Conservatives and the SNP both won a seat at the Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford by-election today.

Margo Stewart of the Tories gained the most votes with 1469 cast in her favour.

SNP’s Gwyneth Petrie won the second seat that was available with 1433 votes.

Both candidates won their seats in the first round of the single transferable vote system.

The election was triggered by the death of SNP councillor Joanna Strathdee after her battle with cancer and Liberal Democrat Alastair Ross, who stepped down due to health reasons.

The total number of votes cast was 4097, with a turnout of 34.5%.

The Liberal Democrats were unable to retain the seat held by Alaistair Ross, as Daniel Millican came third with 928 votes.

Councillor Margo Stewart said she is ‘honoured to represent the people of our area’.

When asked what concerns she was hearing from the electorate during the campaign, she said the campaign team had been ‘hearing a lot about education and housing as well as public transport, particularly in rural areas’.

She added: “I am delighted that the people have seen fit to elect a Conservative candidate.”

Councillor Petrie said during her acceptance speech that Joanne Strathdee had left behind big shoes to fill.

Talking about the by-election, she said: “It has been a busy three weeks campaigning, and it’s good to see the hard work pay off.

“It is an incredible privilege to follow Joanne.”

She also added that housing and public transport are key issues that she intends to address in the area.

MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Dennis Robertson said that Cllr Petrie, who also works for his office, will bring a lot to the constituency.

He said: “I am delighted for Gwyneth, she is a local girl with local knowledge.

“The people of Huntly and Alford will be lucky to have someone like her representing them.”

Alexander Burnett, Conservative Scottish Parliament candidate for Aberdeenshire West, said: “Margo Stewart is the exact councillor that Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford needs. Someone with her knowledge and expertise in education and agriculture will be a welcome addition to Aberdeenshire Council.

“I have no doubt that she will be a fantastic asset to the highly effective Conservative Council group.”