South Okanagan riding waits for candidates

January was a tumultuous month for provincial politics in the Boundary-Similkameen riding, but voters there will have to wait a while longer to discover what their options will be in the upcoming May provincial elections.

Oliver councillor Linda Larson was confirmed as the B.C. Liberal candidate in late January, replacing MLA John Slater, who resigned from the Liberal caucus on Jan. 14 after the party refused to endorse his nomination papers. NDP candidate Marji Basso resigned her candidacy a week later.

While the B.C. NDP has Dick Cannings and the Liberals have Dan Ashton confirmed as their candidates in the Penticton riding, Larson is the only confirmed candidate in Boundary-Similkameen at present.

“It is rather a strange position to be in at the moment,” said Larson. “But I am hoping there is opposition, simply because I think it’s healthy. It gives you a challenge to rise to and also, people like to feel they have a choice; they want to have options.”

The NDP is back to reviewing possible candidates for Boundary-Similkameen, according to party spokesman Michael Roy. He is not ready to say who has come forward, or when there will be a nomination meeting in the riding.

“At this point, the executive hasn’t approved anyone. We tend not to set nomination meeting dates until after there are candidates approved to run,” he said. Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor, however, has come forward to say he would like the job.

Taylor tried for the B.C. NDP nomination in 2011, competing with Basso and Rhonda Bruce, but backed out of the race early, preferring to stay focused on his municipal duties.

“It was a wise thing for me to step back at that point and allow those two other candidates to go forward,” said Taylor. “The situation is far different at this point. I am prepared to run and hoping there will be a positive response from head office.”

The provincial Green Party is still conducting a candidate search, both in Boundary Similkameen and the Penticton Riding.

“The election readiness committees in both ridings are actively seeking a candidate and will be organizing nomination meetings,” said Green Party spokesman Craig Spence, adding that both ridings are expected to have candidates to announce toward the end of March.

The B.C. Conservative party is at a similar stage. While communications director Kristy Fredericks also won’t say who their prospective candidates are, their selection committees is going over candidates for both ridings.

“I can’t name them until they have been vetted by our committee. We do have candidates going through in both those ridings right now,” said Fredericks, adding that there will be a waiting period after the selection committees have finished. “I would say within the next two to three weeks, we should have candidates in these ridings.”

Larson, meanwhile, said she is busy reorganizing and preparing for the election.

“I am putting the riding association back together again. It had very few members left on it,” she said. “So I need to make it a little bigger and put some other expertise on it.”

She has also begun travelling the riding to start organizing for the election.

“For me it is a matter of setting up in every corner of this riding a small group of dedicated people that I can use as my contact, who will then do some outreach for me in their area,” said Larson. “So that when I come over there I can meet with groups of people.”

However, Larson is also giving attention to current responsibilities as well.

“Every day there is another place I could be or something else I could do, but I have made a commitment to maintain my current activities and volunteering for as long as I could,” said Larson, who plans to take a leave of absence from her position on Oliver council when the writ is dropped.

The B.C. First party has also named Doug Maxwell as their candidate in Penticton.





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