Less than 24 hours after Bill Barisoff announced he would not be running for re-election, the first contender to replace him has thrown their hat in the ring.
Connie Denesiuk announced her intentions Monday afternoon during a press conference bedside the SS Sicamous in Penticton. It was, she said a very special day for her.
“August 20th marks a day of significant commitment in my life,” said Denesiuk, referring not only to her seeking the liberal nomination for Penticton, but also another long-term commitment. “The reason this is the specific day I have chosen to announce my intention to seek the nomination, is because in Penticton, 35 years ago today, I made a commitment and married Bob.”
Denesiuk said she has been considering running for provincial office for some time, and it figured in her choice not to run for re-election as school trustee during the last municipal election.
“I was asked to run for school board, for town council and for mayor in the last election and I declined, because I am quite focused on the direction that I want to head and where I want to contribute,” said Denesiuk.
Highlighting 32 years of working as partner with her husband Bob in their small construction business, Denesiuk said she has practical business experience to go along with governance and leadership skills developed through 20 years of service as school trustee and board chair, and provincially as president of the B.C. School Trustees Association.
Though she will be switching perspective from school trustee to the government side, Denesiuk said working on the provincial level has given her an understanding of the responsibilities that exist at that level as well as government contacts, including with Premier Christy Clark, who she has spoken with about her intentions to run.
“I was on her radio show a number of times when I was president of the BCSTA and so I got to know Premier Clark at that time and she has been very encouraging since then,” said Denesiuk.
Two local mayors have also figured high in speculation about who would replace Barisoff when he retired, but neither is yet willing to confirm whether they will enter the nomination race.
Penticton’s Mayor Dan Ashton said he is not yet ready to make an announcement one way or another, adding that this is a busy period in city.
“I am giving it serious consideration,” he said. “But right now, my concentration is on getting through Ironman week.”
Likewise, Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino isn’t ready to declare her intentions.
“It’s just so early,” she said. “I am thinking things through carefully.”
Denesiuk said a strong nomination race would be a benefit all around.
“It’s a good opportunity for the community, the liberal party and subsequently the Penticton riding for the people to have choices,” she said. Denesiuk’s website can be found at http://conniedenesiuk.com/.
The Liberal nomination meeting for the Penticton constituency is scheduled for Oct. 20 at the Ramada Inn. Voting is open only to Liberal party members.