The SNP’s victorious Aberdeenshire East MSP has said it would be a “dream come true” if the whole north-east “goes yellow”.
Gillian Martin retained her seat with 18,307 votes, while the Conservative candidate Stewart Whyte came second with 16,418.
The Liberal Democrat’s Conrad Wood received 3,396 votes, and Labour came in fourth place with 2,900 votes for Graeme Downie.
After securing her victory, an emotional Ms Martin thanked her staff, friends and family for their support.
She explained her key ambitions for the future as Aberdeenshire East’s MSP.
Ms Martin said: “The main priority is making sure we don’t lose any more jobs, as much as possible.
“We have to have Aberdeenshire and the north-east at the heart of green recovery.
“I come from a family from an industrial area, my parents are from Clydebank and there was no just transition for the people that worked in John Brown’s shipyards, so it’s a real personal mission of mine to make sure the hard-working people in the north-east who relied on oil and gas for so many years are not left behind.”
Ms Martin said she would also focus on improving the lives of the younger generation after a year of disruption to their lives and education.
She continued: “Young people have had a terrible year, and we need to put their welfare at the front and centre of everything we do.
“But of course if you’re asking an SNP person what drives them, the way to have that just transition and the way to secure that green recovery and Scotland’s economic health is to have all the levers and powers of a normal, independent country.
“So when this pandemic is over and we’re in a fit state to have a referendum, I will be working every single minute of every single day to make that a reality.”
Tory candidate’s pleased party increased vote
Mr Whyte said he was pleased with the increase in votes the Tories received compared to the results in 2016, when candidate Colin Clark received 10,075 votes.
He said: “I am very proud of the campaign and of the 11% increase in the vote which, to my knowledge, is the biggest move to the Conservatives in Scotland.
“The two big things I’ve heard is that people are heartily sick fed up of referendum. We want to have Holyrood speaking about education, jobs and health – that was huge.
“Secondly, was the Green attack on the North Sea oil and gas.
“I do not accept this result as a mandate for a second referendum. We voted in Aberdeenshire 60/40 and people told me they want that to be respected.
“People voted for me as the strongest unionist candidate.
“I would like Gillian to focus on the economy which is in a fragile state in the north-east and, as a history teacher, I want education high on the agenda again.”
The fight for Aberdeenshire West
Later this afternoon the results of the vote in the key battleground of West Aberdeenshire will be declared.
In the 2016 vote, the Aberdeenshire West seat was secured by Tory Alexander Burnett by 13,400 votes, with the SNP’s candidate Dennis Robertson coming second place with 1,500 votes, a difference of 900.
And in 2019 Westminster vote, the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine seat, which incorporates parts of the West Aberdeenshire Holyrood seat was won by the Conservative’s Andrew Bowie with 22,752 votes.
But the runner-up, the SNP’s Fergus Mutch, received 21,909 votes in that election, giving Mr Bowie a majority of just 843 votes.
Mr Mutch will be hoping today to topple the incumbent Mr Burnett in the hotly-contested seat.
Ms Martin said it would be a “glued” to watching to see if her fellow party member Mr Mutch wins, as in the 2016 election it was the only Tory seat in the entire north-east Scotland region.
She said: “It would be a dream come true, that’s all I can say.
“I hope Aberdeenshire West goes yellow, the candidate is a good friend of mine and he has worked his socks off a number of times now to take that back for us, and I think that certainly we’ve all worked the hardest of any candidates that I’ve seen.
“We don’t take any votes for granted, people have been saying there’s safe seats in the north-east, but there’s no such thing as a safe seat, so we go out and get every vote we possibly can, and when we’re in, we work every day to make sure people can rely on us to do the best for them.”