After B.C. Premier John Horgan announced an election will take place this October, voters in Fraser-Nicola will have one month to decide who they want to represent them in the B.C. legislature.
Jackie Tegart confirmed Monday she will be the candidate for the BC Liberal Party again, having held the riding through two successive elections since 2013. While she says her team has been preparing for the potential of an election, she is not happy with what she calls Horgan’s decision to politicize the pandemic.
“All three parties made a conscious decision that this was too important to play politics with. Until John Horgan decided to call an election. He took our goodwill and he has used it against us in politicizing and choosing to go early to the polls,” she said.
The focus of the campaign, Tegart said, will be on how to keep volunteers and people in the riding safe and will likely focus more on print and online communications as opposed to door knocking and large gatherings.
COVID-19 has to be top of mind, Tegart said, assuring constituents that no matter who is in government the management of the pandemic will proceed with consistency under the leadership of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “The top priority is how to flatten the curve,” Tegart said, adding that economic recovery will be a big topic discussed during the campaign.
The B.C. NDP is fielding Aaron Sumexheltza as their candidate in Fraser-Nicola. Sumexheltza is a lawyer with his own practice, as well as working part-time for the Nicola Valley Indigenous Justice Centre. He is also a councillor for the Lower Nicola Band, as well as a former chief of the band.
“A lot of people are suffering now, and it’s really important that we support businesses and opportunities where we can create employment for people,” he told Black Press before the election was called. “I support moving ahead with major infrastructure projects so that people in our communities can benefit from that work.”
Sumexheltza’s nomination has not been without controversy, as all 13 members of the local NDP riding association resigned following the announcement that he will be the NDP candidate in the riding.
The B.C. Greens are running candidate Jonah Timms, Art Green confirmed Monday. Residing in Lilloett, Timms is a First Nations Advisor with the B.C. Government with a background in environmental sustainability.
“I am hoping to set down roots (in Lilloett) as I now work to bring government, First Nations, and industry together to come to solutions on balancing forestry practices, conservation, and ensuring that small communities continue to be an integral part of the mosaic of British Columbia,” he stated.
A swing riding for the provincial NDP and Liberal parties, Fraser-Nicola was taken by an NDP MLA in 2005 and 2009. In 2013, the Liberals took the riding and re-took it in 2017 with MLA Jackie Tegart as their candidate. The race in Fraser-Nicola has been a tight one, with Tegart winning the 2013 race by 524 votes against the NDP’s Harry Lali.
The BC Ecosocialists, an upstart party formed just under a year ago, stated via email that they “fully intend” to run a candidate in the Fraser Nicola riding.
A request for comment from the BC Conservatives has not been answered as of publication time.
– Files from Barbara Roden
Pick up a copy of the Hope Standard Thursday to read more about the candidates in the Fraser-Nicola riding.
A previous version of this story incorrectly cited the number of votes between the Liberal and NDP candidates in the 2013 BC election for the riding of Fraser Nicola. The Liberals’ Jackie Tegart won the election, with 524 votes more than the NDP’s Harry Lali.
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