Having already punched her ticket on the municipal stage, one NDP hopeful is now looking to step up to a provincial performance.
Marji Basso, a teacher and councillor for the Town of Oliver, was officially nominated the NDP’s candidate for Boundary-Similkameen during the riding association’s Aug. 22 meeting.
While she couldn’t speculate on when the next B.C. election will be called, Basso said local New Democrats have begun lining up volunteers and she is undergoing candidate training this week.
“Either way, we’re getting ourselves prepared. There’s obviously positives and negatives to both whether there’s a fall election,” Basso said, adding she will be meeting the NDP caucus today (Wednesday).
“Marji will be a strong voice for voters in Boundary-Similkameen,” B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix said in a release. “Marji understands the challenges families in the Kootenays and across B.C. are facing and will stand up for them every day.”
Having toured the riding meeting with party members, Basso says she has gained more understanding about what each community needs.
“We have a lot of similarities to Oliver, but we have a lot of differences as well,” she said, citing health care and agriculture as key concerns among residents.
“I always have been passionate about that we are taking care of and providing for working families. It’s that whole sustainability component of rural communities.”
She has served two terms on council in Oliver, where she and her family has lived for 15 years. She is also currently a full-time teacher with School District 53.
Basso said she would take a temporary leave from her teaching position to campaign, should a fall election be called. The two-term councillor said she would continue her municipal duties throughout any fall provincial campaign.
“If it goes that way, the next three months could be challenging,” she said.
“Instead of two hats, I’ll be wearing three. But I’ve got a large head, so I think I can handle it.”
Entering the provincial foray this fall may also put Basso in an interesting place: as a provincial candidate who is also a teacher, just as the B.C. Teachers’ Federation begins job action over contract negotiations.
She said she hoped the issue will be resolved through collective bargaining.
“I think it’s just one more example of how we have organizations that are trying to build a better rapport with the provincial government,” Basso said. “We’re all wanting a better level of education that’s available to our families and to our children.
“It will be an interesting time. It is a little bit different for me, but I’ve been through it before, unfortunately, and we’re hoping for the best.”
For Basso, her work as a teacher and councillor adds another perspective, which is valuable in the political arena.
“I got involved municipally because I felt it was really important to have well-rounded representation,” she said, adding that she entered the race for a council seat when then-Oliver mayor Linda Larson decided to step down.
“At that time I felt it was really important to have a perspective on council that would represent families, would represent the working population of our community and also represent the gender population.”
Ultimately, Basso said she wants to demystify politics so residents can see it’s a collaborative process.
“I’ve come to realize that people for whatever reason tend to still have a negative connotation to politics,” she said. “I’m hoping to get people engaged so we can put politics back on the table so we can talk about real issues, come up with real solutions and bring it forward to the province.”
The NDP has nominated 18 candidates since May in preparation for the vote. Premier Christy Clark has not indicated her decision on whether the writ will be dropped in coming weeks, which would trigger a provincial election.