A Saskatchewan legislative seat is changing colour.

NDP candidate Ryan Meili won the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection Thursday over the Saskatchewan Party’s Brent Penner and three other candidates.

“We won,” Meili told a crowd of supporters after the win.

“Whether you were putting up signs or taking one for your own lawn, making phone calls or bringing in meals, knocking on doors or crunching numbers, casting your vote or helping others to cast theirs, this victory is yours.”

Meili, with all ballot boxes set to be counted Thursday night reporting, had earned 54.2 per cent of the vote, or 2,666 votes. Penner had earned 39.9 per cent, or 1,962 votes.

“I also want to say thank you to my opponents,” Meili said. “I just got off the phone with Brent Penner. He’s been very respectful throughout this. Every party was represented in this byelection, and it was a decent and respectful race, the kind of race that restores your faith in democracy.”

The remaining three candidates, the Liberal’s Darrin Lamoureux, the Progressive Conservative’s David Prokopchuk and the Green Party’s Shawn Setyo, had each earned fewer than four per cent of the vote.

One more ballot box — for absentee voting and from votes recorded at Saskatoon City Hospital — will be counted March 14, according to Elections Saskatchewan. The numbers as of Thursday night are unofficial.

Meili is a doctor in the city and founder of Upstream, a group focused on health-care discussions within the context of social issues. His win ups the number of NDP seats in the Saskatchewan legislature to 11.

Penner, a former Saskatoon police officer and current executive director of the Downtown Saskatoon Business Improvement District, conceded shortly before the last polls reported.

“Whenever you put a lot of time and effort into anything and you don’t get the result that you (want), there’s a disappointment there,” Penner told media, responding to a question about whether he’d run again.

“I certainly won’t rule that out, but it’s also too soon to commit to running again in an election a few years down the road.”

The Saskatoon Meewasin seat was previously held by the late Saskatchewan Party MLA Roger Parent. Parent died in November, two weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer.

The Saskatchewan Party, which won 51 of the province’s 61 seats in last year’s election, now holds 49 seats. One of the party’s seats became independent last summer after Don McMorris left the caucus because of a drunk-driving charge. He has since been convicted.  

University of Regina professor Ken Rasmussen, with the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, told The Canadian Press this week a Meili win could factor into the NDP leadership race, which is expected in spring 2018.

The party lost their leader, Cam Broten, in the provincial election last April. Trent Wotherspoon has since taken over as the interim leader.

Meili ran unsuccessfully for the Saskatchewan NDP leadership in 2009 and 2013. He told reporters Thursday he's not ruling out another run for the party's leadership.

--- with files from The Canadian Press