It won’t come as much of a surprise that Penticton realtor Marshall Neufeld, one time aide to former Conservative MP Stockwell Day and president of the local conservative riding association, has declared he will be seeking the Conservative nomination for the new South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding.
“I am a conservative through and through,” said the 31-year-old Neufeld. “By the time of the next election, this particular area will not have had a conservative voice in Ottawa for nearly 10 years.”
The bulk of what will be South Okanagan West Kootenay at the next federal election in 2015 is currently represented by NDP MP Alex Atamanenko, who recently announced his plans to retire.
In contrast, Penticton has long been a conservative stronghold, currently under MP Dan Albas.
With that dichotomy, Neufeld said the new riding will not be a guaranteed seat for any of the three major parties.
“There will be a real race here in the next election,” said Neufeld, who, speaking as if he already has the nomination in hand, said he will fight for “common-sense, conservative principles” if elected.
In particular, he said, that includes income splitting for families, more free trade and the democratic reform or abolition of the Senate.
Neufeld has already lined up a solid campaign team to see him through the nomination, including Conservative stalwarts Neil Jamieson, Lyle Brant and John Brent, Day’s former campaign manager, who has offered to be Neufeld’s campaign manager both for the nomination and the election.
“Marshall is hard working, very energetic, passionate about his conservative values. I just think he is the right candidate to represent a riding of this size,” said Brent.
Neufeld spent time in Ottawa with Stockwell Day as his senior parliamentary assistant. Day has already spoken in support of his former aide.
“The people of South Okanagan-West Kootenay would be well served by having Marshall as their representative,” said Day.
Neufeld said his main reason for running is out of a sense of service.
“Service has always been important to me,” said Neufeld, who sat for two terms on the National Council of the Conservative Party of Canada and is past president of the local Conservative riding association.
A real estate agent for the last five years, Neufeld also worked as a care worker at Village by the Station prior to working for Day and has been an active member of the community since his teenage years, volunteering with local causes and raising money. He has served as the vice chair of the Penticton Christian School Board.