The B.C. Liberal nomination race as officially begun as former Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks has announced his intention to run.
Wilks, who has experience in municipal politics as the mayor of Sparwood for two terms along with serving on the board of directors with the Regional District of East Kootenay, said he is looking forward to the nomination process.
“After talking with family and friends and supporters, I decided to put my name in the hat,” said Wilks. “I have a strong passion for politics and have served in municipal, regional and federal politics.
“I believe I come with the knowledge and the experience to serve East Kootenay very well should I be successful in the nomination and I believe that we can get some more things done.”
He paid homage to outgoing B.C. Liberal MLA Bill Bennett, who announced his retirement from provincial politics last week.
“Bill Bennett has done a wonderful job over the last 16 years and if I win the nomination, I look forward to continuing on with that legacy,” Wilks said.
Wilks spent the last four years in federal politics as the Kootenay-Columbia MP within the Conservative Party, however, he lost his re-election bid to NDP candidate Wayne Stetski by only 200 votes.
Prior to his time in federal politics, Wilks served as mayor of Sparwood and also at the RDEK table, where he was able to establish relationships with regional elected representatives.
“If you think about from the perspective, municipally, any mayor — I know them all personally — they have to be able to just call you if they think that they need something within their city, town, village,” Wilks said.
“For me, federally, I know all of the players from the Conservative side and I know a lot of the Liberals and NDP as well. I think people know me good enough to know that I can work across party lines. I don’t have a problem with that.”
Responsibility for certain issues can vary at the provincial and federal levels, but there area a few issues that Wilks would like to address. In the Elk Valley, Wilks would like to get the federal government to divest it’s hold on the Dominion coal block, which is inside Parcel 73 and 82.
Wilks will be keeping an eye on Mainroad Contracting and seeing how they fare with highway maintenance in the winter season now that the company has a new contract with the province.
Cranbrook is the hub of the Kootenays and it will be important to ensure that the city gets the services needed to serve not just the city but the region as well, Wilks added. He singled out supporting the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board, which has a jurisdiction throughout the region that is beyond the Kootenay East riding boundary.
Wilks added that following in the footsteps of Bennett — who served 16 years in politics — isn’t all that intimidating, since he did it before when he took over from former Conservative MP Jim Abbott, who represented the riding for 17 years.
“Each person has their own unique qualities and their own abilities,” Wilks said. “I believe I’ve been able to prove myself over time not only federally but municipally and regionally that I’m one that likes to get things done.”
He also isn’t shy about admitting that he likely won’t be the only one in the race for the B.C. Liberal nomination.
“I hope it’s a spirited nomination and may the best person win,” Wilks said.