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Perrino throws hat into provincial ring

Another contender entered the race to replace Bill Barisoff as Penticton’s provincial Liberal candidate this week.

Once she was done with Summerland City Council business Monday evening, Mayor Janice Perrino began the process of announcing her candidacy for the position.

Perrino joins the race about three weeks after the first two nominees, Connie Denesiuk and Mark Ziebarth, who both made their announcement in the week after Barisoff announced that he would not be seeking re-election. Perrino, who has long been touted as a potential Barisoff replacement, said she needed to consider her options carefully.

“I needed some time to make sure and to gauge support, that’s why I took this long,” said Perrino. “It’s one of those very rare opportunities, so I had to sit back and ask, how does this affect me personally and how can I affect the party personally?”

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton, who is also expected to put his name forward, said he is not ready yet to make an announcement.

“I have a keen interest,” said Ashton. “I am taking a very serious look at it, and will make an announcement in the future.”

As well as being Summerland Mayor, Perrino is also executive director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation, which raises funds to support Penticton Regional Hospital. Not surprisingly, health is high on her list of priorities.

“Penticton Regional Hospital is grossly undersized. I want to make sure that funding is secured for the hospital expansion for the ambulatory care,” she said. “It’s the best medical care possible for our growing and aging populations and it’s a huge economic boom for this area.”

The region has benefitted greatly from having strong representatives in the ruling Liberal party, according to Perrino, pointing out infrastructure improvements in Summerland and the Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College Penticton. It’s a tradition she hopes to continue.

“I really look forward to working with the province to make sure our area gets what it needs. It has made such a huge difference for our infrastructure and for the growth of our communities,” she said. “That is an absolute priority for me.

But as much as she is concerned with the connection with the government, Perrino said her time as mayor has made her aware of the need to stay in touch with the constituency.

“I know what it means to be in touch with citizens. It’s really important that we stay connected,” she said, noting that in both work and politics she has had the opportunity to work with Barisoff and former MLA Rick Thorpe.

“It’s meant a lot for me to be able to contact my MLAs when I needed to. And I want to be that kind of MLA, that stays in touch with the community and keeps them up to date with what is going on,” she said. “I see that as primary. It’s not only that we tell the communities what is going on, but also take back the information from the communities to the provincial leaders.”

Perrino will continue through as mayor and the foundation’s executive director through the nomination process, and if selected, said she will take a leave of absence when the election is officially called in spring 2013 to concentrate on getting out and campaigning for the election.

“Should I be lucky enough to win, I will have to leave both of the positions and that is the tough part,” she said. “I enjoy every day; being there for Summerland. But I will never get another opportunity to go for this. You only get so many four year terms.”

The Penticton riding’s Liberal organization will be holding their nomination meeting on Oct. 20.

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