As he announced that he would not be seeking re-election, Bill Barisoff said it’s time to pass the torch to the next generation of leaders.
After 34 years in the public spotlight, in one form or another, there can be little doubt that’s true for Barisoff.
And, in the weeks to come, there will be a lot of looking back over Barisoff’s career as a politician, with many analyzing every mistake with 20-20 hindsight.
“It’s not the easiest vocation,” said former MLA Rick Thorpe, and Barisoff’s roommate in Victoria for years. “There is always going to be people that take shots at you.”
Most of the scrutiny will likely fall on his 16 years as Liberal MLA for South Okanagan ridings. Though those years have been marked by the occasional scandal, including the recent auditor-general’s scathing report on the finances and accounting practices for the B.C. legislature, which are controlled through Barisoff’s office as Speaker of the House.
But, especially for the people of the South Okanagan, it is more important to look back on the work he has done over the last 16 years to benefit the area. It’s a long list, stretching back many years but also including Barisoff’s support and work on behalf of the Penticton Community Centre reconstruction and the Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College.
That, in fact, is what Barisoff considers one of the biggest accomplishments of his years in office, a world-class facility benefitting the entire South Okanagan.
This then, is the time to say thank you and to appreciate what Barisoff, the man, has accomplished. The time to decide whether or not the Liberals are the best choice for running the province is next spring, when we all head to the polls in May.