HodgePodge by Charlie Hodge
In true HodgePodge genre, a smattering of various thoughts to kick start your weekend.
Election fervor (or is that fever?) is in full swing this month with two significant provincial government related votes impacting Kelowna residents.
On Feb 4 (Sunday) the B.C. Liberal Party will select their new leader from a cast of six. The newly anointed provincial Liberal king or queen will then attempt to rally the troops and loyal followers into reclaiming the provincial crown from the current clutches of the NDP. The lucky winner will replace former Kelowna-West MLA and B.C. Premier Christy Clark – who quit her MLA post after the Liberals lost the recent provincial election.
The new party leader election decision making began earlier this week and will wrap up on the weekend. Six candidates are in the running including Mike de Jong, Michael Lee, Todd Stone, Sam Sullivan and Andrew Wilkinson, in addition to former Surrey mayor and Conservative Party MP Dianne Watts.
The latter is touted by many political pundits as one of the frontrunners with many predicting she will lead after the first ballot. Her overall success, which is highly debated, is expected to fade however in the second and or possible third rounds. A plethora of opinions of who will likely succeed (if not Watts) is shared by many. I am hedging either Stone or popular long shot de Jong.
de Jong first jumped into politics in 1994 when he thumped Grace McCarthy for her riding. When the Liberals claimed the provincial throne in 2001, Mikey was named a cabinet minister and eventually took on several major portfolios including house leader, attorney general, finance, and health.
I have the pleasure (and I mean that sincerely) of sitting next to his brother Rick at the Regional District of the Central Okanagan table as a Director. If Mike’s character and wit is anywhere close to Rick’s then he would make a fine choice.
Those leadership results will certainly be fuel for further discussion and influence in the upcoming Kelowna-Westside by-election battle set for February 14.
That scrap was deemed necessary after Clark’s ‘take my ball and go home’ decision (mentioned above) back in August. Four candidates are in the ring for the vacant MLA spot. The contestants are: former MLA Ben Stewart (BC Liberals), Shelley Cook (NDP), Robert Stupka (Green) and Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian). The first three listed are anticipated to battle it out in a close race with each facing key questions for their success.
For Stewart the question is whether or not voters will give popular Ben his job back after he abdicated his elected position (forced or not) so Clark could take it over. Some voters still hold a bitter taste over that decision.
For Cook the main issue is how voters view the recent actions of her party since their victory. Certainly Shelley has continued to be outspoken since her defeat to Ben in the last go-around and does not appear ready to go away without a fight.
Stupka’s big questions is two-fold. Relatively unknown – will his hard work and recent campaign efforts be enough to overcome the lack of name recognition – and will there be enough of a vote split between Ben and Shelley for him to slip up the middle?
If you are not interested in interrupting the romantic flavour of Valentine’s Day by going to the voting polls that day, you can take advantage of advance polls.
Advance voting places and dates are published on the Elections BC website and on Where to Vote cards sent to Kelowna West voters. All advance voting places are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. including Kelowna West Electoral Office at 102-B 1979 Old Okanagan Highway, Kelowna Curling Club, First Baptist Church, Westside Alliance Church, St, Pius X Church Hall, George Pringle Elementary School, and other locations. If you are not registered to vote yet – you may do so there but take ID.
On a sad, non-political note Kelowna has lost a true champion and quality person this week with the passing of Bob Purdy. Bob is probably best known to locals as the often photographed senior paddle boarder who not only championed the sport, but protection of Okanagan Lake and environmental awareness.
A passionate advocate of the Okanagan, Bob began Paddle for the Planet and World Paddle for the Planet Day in his effort to promote fitness and environmental preservation. Bob lost his battle with cancer this week at age 64. My sincere condolences to his family and man friends.
And belated happy birthday wishes to my dear friend and another Kelowna champion, former mayor Sharon Shepherd. Not only is she a great person and community caring character – she is also a class act who truly leads by example. Her naming as winner of the Anita Tozer Award for lifetime volunteer work in Kelowna last year is emblematic of her passion and dedication to our community.
Happy Birthday young lady.