With the next provincial Election Day looming less than a year away, political parties and politicians are taking steps to prepare for an important campaign.
For the NDP, that first step will be determining an official candidate for the Columbia-River Revelstoke riding. With incumbent NDP MLA Norm Macdonald announcing that he will not run in the next provincial election, a replacement needed to be named. On October 15th, the NDP will hold a vote for members of the party to determine the candidate for the riding ahead of next May’s provincial election.
“We were very saddened to learn that Norm was not going to be our candidate in the next election as he has done such a great job as our MLA,” said Columbia River Revelstoke NDP Constituency Association president, Bill MacFarlane in a press release. “But now, with Norm’s full support, we are excited to have a campaign to select a new candidate.”
To date, there have been two candidates that have officially put their name in the running to become the next candidate for the NDP party. Current mayor of Invermere Gerry Taft was the first to publicly announce his candidacy before former Invermere councillor Spring Hawes followed shortly after. MacFarlane said that there is potential for two more candidates to be announced in the future but they will have to do so at least six weeks prior to the October 15 nomination meeting.
As of now, both Taft and Hawes are working hard on adding as many people as possible to the list of members of the NDP party. Those who become members of the provincial NDP party after July 15th will be ineligible to vote in the nomination race between Taft and Hawes.
For Taft, it’s about meeting more people and educating them about the rules and importance of their membership ahead of October 15th.
“This has been an NDP riding for a long time and whoever is chosen as a candidate has a very good chance of being a serious contender in the next provincial election,” he said. “I think this is an important seat for the NDP so it’s very important that that decision is taken carefully and made by a large number of people. It would be unfortunate if there were only a handful of people who were members and they select the candidate.”
Like Taft, Hawes is meeting with people throughout the riding at coffee shops and other settings to promote her platform of diversity and environmental importance in the local area.
“People in our area are concerned about protecting our environment and our water resources, and climate change, and they want to see Jumbo remain wild,” she said. “I have a track record of supporting environmental initiatives, opposing development in the Jumbo Valley, along with a personal ethic concerned with environmental responsibility.”
Once the July 15th deadline passes, it will be a competition between Taft, Hawes and any other potential candidates to win the nomination in October. Taft said given there are no head-to-head debates and all candidates are part of the same party, he expects it to be more, “about putting yourself forward and talking about your own skills and potential.”
Both Hawes and Taft said they are not just looking ahead to the nomination meeting but also the provincial election a year from now.
“A lot of the networking that I’m doing right now will be very valuable in that next step because the connections that are made will carry forward,” Hawes said.
For the first time in a decade there will be a new candidate for the NDP party in Columbia River Revelstoke riding. Let the race begin.