South Okanagan MLAs now sworn in

Linda Larson and Dan Ashton were officially sworn in as MLAs for, respectively, the Boundary-Similkameen and Penticton ridings Tuesday

Under the watchful eye of Craig James

Under the watchful eye of Craig James

With a few strokes of a pen Tuesday, Linda Larson and Dan Ashton were officially sworn in as MLAs for, respectively, the Boundary-Similkameen and Penticton ridings.

For Ashton, that official recognition of the results of the May 14 election was the cue for him to step down as both mayor of Penticton and chair of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

“Yesterday, in the morning I was handed a certificate that says I am an MLA and underneath it was the certification of the votes that took place on June 5,” said Ashton, who delivered his resignations to Penticton city manager Annette Antoniak and RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell.

The RDOS board will be holding an internal election on July 4 to replace Ashton as chair, a position he has held for more than a decade. Currently, Mark Pendergraft, director for rural Osoyoos serves as acting chairperson. As of press time, no date has been set for a byelection to replace Ashton as mayor, though acting mayor Garry Litke has said council has a couple of dates in mind for a fall byelection, partly driven by the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference on Sept. 16. Litke said that they want to have a strong mayor and council in place at the UBCM conference to lobby Ashton and other elected officials about promises made for expanding Penticton Regional Hospital.

Boundary Similkameen MLA Linda Larson, who was also sworn in on Tuesday, said she will be resigning from her position as an Oliver councillor in mid-August. The council has 80 days following the resignation to arrange a byelection, though she expects that will happen sometime in September. Larson said it was a special moment sitting on the floor of the legislature and being sworn in, rather than watching from the gallery.

“It has such a lot of history that you can’t help but be a little in awe of that,” said Larson. Along with Ashton, who was appointed to the Treasury Board and made parliamentary secretary to the minister responsible for core review, Larson also received significant appointments.

Larson was appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of health for seniors, as well as being named the deputy party whip.

“I think the whip one is because I am very good at telling people what to do,” joked Larson. “I don’t usually hold back when it comes to certain things.”