When MLA Norm Macdonald announced he would not seek re-election in Columbia River Revelstoke, he predicted there would be a number of candidates coming forward to fill the spot.
The first of those candidates has now come forward, as Gerry Taft, Mayor of Invermere, has announced his intention to seek the nomination.
Taft is a familiar name in the riding, beginning his first term on the District of Invermere Council at the age of 20 and now serving his third term as Mayor. He also serves on the RDEK Board and for the past two years on the Union of BC Municipalities Board.
It is dealing with the provincial government on those boards that led him to consider a run in provincial politics.
“Although I very much enjoy my current position as Mayor of Invermere and serving on the Regional District of East Kootenay board, I find that many of the most frustrating aspects of my current position involve interactions with and the failings of the current provincial government,” said Taft. “I think there is a great opportunity to make our province better for every British Columbian, but that will only happen with a change of government.”
At the moment Taft is the only candidate to come forward but he expects more, with one potentially announcing as early as next Monday.
“I am expecting a vigorous race with a range of candidates,” said Taft. “Unlike the BC Liberals who had an acclamation in May of the same candidate who ran unsuccessfully in 2013, the position of NDP candidate for 2017 will be heavily sought after.”
The nominating meeting is set for early to mid October. Local BC NDP members in good standing will be eligible to select the candidate.
Taft says this means if you are not a member and would like to vote, time is of the essence.
“The cutoff for membership will be early July.”
Taft plans to spend time travelling the riding this summer, especially areas away from Invermere and the Columbia Valley where he is not as well known.
“I will be travelling across the riding throughout the summer in preparation for the nomination. I’ll be talking with current members and selling memberships to those who want to be part of choosing the next candidate for MLA. And I’ll be preparing for the election campaign which will get underway in the fall.”
However, he will not be giving up his position as Mayor.
“There’s lots of exciting stuff happening in Invermere and the RDEK and I will keep working on that. If I win the nomination and then the election, I will step down as Mayor.
“I have always been passionate about rural communities, and I’ve never been afraid to fight for what is right. And as a small business owner I know that a resilient economy is made up of successful local small businesses that support a healthy environment and robust community. This is why I’m running for the BC NDP, to be the next MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke.”
Taft says Norm Macdonald leaves big shoes to fill.
“Norm, although he is always modest, respectful and diplomatic, is a very strong voice for the people of this region. I’ve known him since he was first elected, and I’ve admired the way he has represented our interests. He always put his constituents first, ahead of any personal benefit. And he has provided support and guidance to me as mayor, and as a friend.”
Taft is looking forward to speaking with people across the region. His phone number is 250 341 1202 and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for Taft on Facebook at www.fb.com/GerryTaftBC and on Twitter at @TaftGerry.
To purchase a membership in the BC NDP and participate in the nominating convention, join online at bcndp.ca/join.