Though there were several interested, when the nomination period closed for the Penticton NDP constituency over the weekend, only two candidates chose to put their names forward.
“We had two people who were still considering, but they declined to run at the 11th hour,” said Jeanette Wood, the local NDP riding president. “We have our remaining candidates, David Finnis and Dick Cannings.”
“There is going to be a lot of work to do and we’ve two excellent nominees, and either one of them would make a great candidate and social contestant to take the riding,” said Wood.
Party members will make the choice between Cannings and Finnis on Nov. 18 in a meeting at the Shatford Centre.
“It’s going to be an open race, it’s going to be exciting,” said Wood.
NDP leader Adrian Dix, who visited the riding this week, isn’t concerned about the Liberal’s selection of Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton as candidate. He doubts Ashton’s current prominence can sway the voters.
“I welcome Dan as well. This isn’t personal, I like Dan too. The reality is there isn’t an incumbent in the seat. That ensures it will be an open seat,” said Dix. “We won this seat in 1991, the last time we went from opposition to government. I think we’ve got a great chance here. We’re going to be making a big, big effort here.”
As well known as Ashton is, Wood said both the NDP candidates have equal name recognition.
“Dan is very well known and certainly with his position as mayor and regional district chair and before that as councillor, he’s got a good background and a lot of people supporting him, but so have either one of our guys,” said Wood.
Finnis is a former Summerland councillor, while Cannings is a well-known naturalist and author, with a series of books to his credit.
Dix points out that in the results of the last election, the NDP and the Green Party got more than 50 per cent of the vote here combined.
“It is ultimately up to the voters, but I like our chances,” said Dix. “I think our candidates are going to have real appeal in this region.”
Dix went on to say that the candidate, whichever is chosen, will have to make his case door to door, just as Ashton will. But he thinks people in the Okanagan ridings want to see some competitive politics.
“I think that if there isn’t alternatives, you get arrogance. It’s not anything the MLAs do themselves, it’s just the Liberals take these seats for granted, they see them as being in their column,” said Dix.
“I am not conceding any seat in the whole region. We are looking to take the majority of the seats in the region.”
Registration for the NDP nomination meeting — voters must be an NDP party member for more than 90 days — begins at 12:45 p.m. on Nov. 18 and remains open until the nominees have completed their speeches. Then, said Wood, the doors will be sealed and all members who are present will be able to cast their ballot.