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Posted: June 24, 2016

Local political experience an asset: candidates

There is a theme developing as to who and where candidates are emerging from in the vacant Kootenay East BC NDP and BC Liberal Party candidate nomination process.

Premier Christy Clark with Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo
Premier Christy Clark with Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett June 23. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo

With Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett (BC Liberals) announcing June 21 that he will not seek a fifth term in office, the door is now wide open for his replacement to step forward.

The day before Bennett’s announcement, Randal Macnair, former Mayor of Fernie, declared his intent to seek the BC NDP candidacy for the riding, the first person to cast his/her hat into the ring.

And hot on the heels of Premier Christy Clark’s lengthy stay in Cranbrook during the BC Liberal Caucus annual meeting, where she challenged party faithful in the riding to heed the call to public service June 23, former District of Sparwood Mayor and Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks was the first to throw his hat into the Liberal ring.

In the riding to the north – Columbia River-Revelstoke – there is a similar theme. Current District of Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft has announced he is seeking the BC NDP nomination, with three-term MLA Norm Macdonald opting to not run again.

Randal Macnair
Randal Macnair

Soon after Taft declared, former District of Invermere councillor Spring Hawes threw her hat in the NDP ring.

The BC Liberals already have a candidate in place in Columbia River-Revelstoke, Fairmont Hot Springs resident Doug Clovechok, the only candidate who has not served in local government.

Macnair said having experience in local politics gives a candidate a clearer picture of what is required in leadership.

“As a municipal leader for 15 years I helped lead Fernie to greater economic diversity, now I want to help make that happen for all of the East Kootenay,” he said.

Macnair was on Fernie City council for 15 years including six as Mayor and nine as a councillor. As Mayor he also served six years on the board of the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK).

“We have remarkable assets in Kootenay East, the beauty of our landscape, rich natural resources and most importantly, the people of our region. We need government in British Columbia that supports the dynamic power and possibility within all of our communities and our people, helping to realize our full potential,” he said.

Macnair led Fernie at a critical time in its recent history, overseeing unprecedented growth, the revitalization of Fernie’s downtown and the creation of close to 100 units of affordable housing, he said.

“Kootenay East is a diverse region and we need inclusive, compassionate representation to thrive together. We must ensure that everyone can share in the economy more equally,“ Macnair said.

“As a former Director on the RDEK Board I know how important each community is. When Cranbrook succeeds so does Sparwood; what is good for Elkford is good for the South Country. We need someone in Victoria who helps us all prosper together,” he said, adding he looks forward to a competitive nomination race with a vote in October.

“This provides the opportunity to get people engaged with the campaign and enthusiastic about the NDP forming a new government for B.C. after the election next spring. I will spend this summer and early fall connecting with people across Kootenay East and building a strong base of supporters, members and volunteers to win the election in May of 2017. People are welcome to contact me to become a member or support the campaign.”

David Wilks
David Wilks

Wilks provided e-KNOW with a similar take on how experience in local politics is an asset for someone running for provincial or federal government seats.

“My experience in municipal, regional and federal politics provides me with not only the experience but the understanding of the issues in Kootenay East,” he said.

“As Mayor of Sparwood I spearheaded the renegotiation of the Elk Valley Mine Tax Sharing Agreement which benefits Elkford, Sparwood, Fernie and Electoral Area A. When the community of Sparwood went through a devastating loss in 2008, I ensured that the families affected by the tragedy as well as the community at whole were supported.

“As Director and Chair of the Regional District of East Kootenay I worked collaboratively with other Directors to ensure such projects like Lot 48 in Area F was protected from residential development,” Wilks said.


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