John Zimmer

John Zimmer

Conservative Party vote to replace Jim Abbott set for Tuesday

  • Mar. 9, 2011 2:00 p.m.

The Kootenay-Columbia Conservative Party will be holding a vote for a new candidate in Revelstoke at the community centre next Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The vote is the first in the riding as part of an accelerated nomination process made necessary by the threat of an early election after the Federal budget is tabled on Mar. 22, said party spokesperson Dave Reeves.

All four candidates will be on hand to deliver a speech and then party members will be able to cast their ballot for their preferred candidate. The public is welcome to attend but only registered Conservative Party members are eligible to vote.

The voting will continue around the riding and will wrap up in Cranbrook on Mar. 19, at which point a winner will be announced.

The chosen candidate will replace long-time MP Jim Abbott as the representative of the Conservative Party in the next federal election. They will go up against Mark Shmigelsky of the NDP. There is no word yet on the candidates for the Liberal and Green Parties.

The four candidates are:

Wesley Graham

Wes Graham

Graham, 30, has served as a councillor in the Town of Creston since 2005 and also sits as director-at-large on the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

He is the youngest candidate in the race and has described himself as a fiscal conservative who believes government has a role to ensure people who need help get it.

“I’m hearing that people are tired of the ‘old boys’ club’ and they want to see a government that really works for the people,” he said.

“Public service is a passion I have,” he said. “People see that and they know I’ll work hard for the Kootenays.”

Russ Kinghorn

Russ Kinghorn















A Cranbrook engineer and businessman, Russ Kinghorn was the final person to enter into the race to become the Conservative Party candidate in the Kootenay-Columbia riding.

Kinghorn announced his candidacy with a press release to the media Friday evening.

He has lived in the riding since 1983 and has worked as an engineer and business consultant in forestry and coal mining. In 2009-10 he was president of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC.

He also served on the Conservative riding association board for several years.

His policies are to represent his constituents’ rural view in Ottawa; reduce bureaucracy by eliminating duplication of federal and provincial processes and by cutting programs like the long gun registry; protect forestry, mining and tourism industries and the jobs they create; and protect the sustainability of our Kootenay-Columbia environment and way of life.

David Wilks

David Wilks













Wilks, a former RCMP officer and the mayor of Sparwood since 2005, was the first to announce his candidacy, doing so last April.

On his website ( he states he “will stand for the traditional issues of creating jobs, improving healthcare in rural areas and for seniors, protecting the environment and ensuring the military is adequately funded.”

Upon announcing his candidacy he said government should be fiscally prudent, that the environment must be protected, Canadians should have reasonable access to health care regardless of their ability to pay and that the country should accept its obligations among other nations.

“The spirit behind our campaign is based upon a vision. It’s about creating a dialog with Canadians. It’s about earning the trust of the people and being honest with them. It’s about sound fiscal management, and working toward a safer, stronger and vibrant Canada,” said Wilks.

John Zimmer

John Zimmer





















Zimmer has spent 15 years practicing as a lawyer in Cranbrook. He also supports scrapping the long-gun registry and wants to focus on improving the economy, post-secondary education, improving transportation infrastructure and trade with Asia.

“I believe that this riding needs someone who can continue the solid representation of this riding,” Zimmer said upon announcing his candidacy. “I want to build on the accomplishments Jim Abbott achieved in office.”