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Candidates’ messages: Kootenay East and Columbia River Revelstoke

The Townsman offered each candidate - in Kootenay East and Columbia River Revelstoke - space to hold forth on issues important to them and to voters.

Tom Shypitka - BC Liberals, Kootenay East

I have been absolutely honoured to have represented you for the past 3 1/2 years. My staff and I worked very hard to keep our office non-partisan and welcoming to all, and our record on helping those that come through our door has been very well documented. We have numerous success stories.

I want to cut to the chase and explain why we are having this election right now and tell you why I believe I am your best choice.

This unnecessary election by the NDP has exploited the good work and good will that you the general public and the many businesses across the province have given. It also has betrayed the partnership that all 3 parties agreed to in the Legislature in order to do what was best for British Columbians during a pandemic and provincial health emergency. The work of Dr. Bonnie Henry who is an independent government employee hired by the BC Liberals in 2015, would have been identical no matter what party was in government. The NDP should not get away with hiding behind the great work of Dr. Bonnie!

What also was underhanded was the betrayal of the Greens by the NDP; this went against a signed agreement not to hold an election until October 16th 2021.

Plain and simple – there is no good reason why this election should be happening right now when the NDP knew the second wave of the pandemic would be hitting us now, and businesses and employees need government the most. John Horgan has proven he simply cannot be trusted.

Here is the reality for those of us who have chosen to live in rural BC. The NDP’s stronghold is the Lower Mainland and that is who they cater to. Our unique issues such as wildlife, land access, mining industry, access to healthcare and many others will not be addressed by this government the way they need to be. The NDP took away rural funding and used it in the Urban areas. In short the NDP do not care about rural BC.

But enough negativity, there is hope.

The BC Liberal plan is the largest roll out in BC history with 30.9 Billion in 3 years going to infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, transportation, in addition to 1 Billion to improve seniors care, elimination of the PST for 1 year, and greater choice on auto insurance!

I believe I have worked as hard as anyone can. I love the people in this riding no matter what their political stripe. I have represented us all through good dialogue and pure passion for this awesome place we call home. I believe I have earned your trust.My team and I have done many good things, but we have much more to do and I am committed to do this for all of us. Give me your support and I will continue to work hard for you.

We can do good work together and I need your vote to do it.

Wayne Stetski - BC NDP, Kootenay East

I’m Wayne Stetski, and I want to work with you, and for you, as your MLA for Kootenay East.

I’m running because I have a passion for helping people and a strong desire to make a better BC.

We know in Kootenay East how important it is to have your MLA working for you inside government. John Horgan will be re-elected as Premier, and I want to be your strong voice on John’s team.

Listening to you is my priority, and as your MLA you can count on me to meet with you in your community to hear your concerns personally.

My wife Audrey and I have lived here for 30 years – we are so fortunate to have raised our family in Kootenay East!

During those three decades I have served you as your:

Member of Parliament – providing excellent non-partisan public service resolving issues you were having with government, and always putting Principles ahead of Politics in Parliament.

Mayor of Cranbrook – focussing on a welcoming and caring city hall and personally attending your events because I like people and care about what you are passionate about.

Manager of the East Kootenay Conservation Program developing partnerships for conservation on private land.

Regional Manager for the Ministry of Environment responsible for Fish, Wildlife, Ecosystems and Parks - Caring about the environment is a big part of who we are here in Kootenay East and has been a focus for my entire life. I will always be there for our hunters and fishers!

I believe in giving back to my community, and have volunteered locally on 11 different non-profit Boards and Committees:

The United Way; the College of the Rockies; the Key City Theatre; the Cranbrook Multicultural Society; the Cranbrook History Centre; Symphony of the Kootenays; Rocky Mountain Naturalists; Citizens Climate Lobby; Scouts Canada; Cranbrook Foodbank; Cranbrook Community Forest Society and have served as Manager/Coach for Minor Hockey and Ball helping your children stay healthy while learning the importance of teamwork.

We are facing a number of challenges that we must continue to work on together: Keeping you safe, secure and healthy during the pandemic; a shortage of family Doctors; ensuring a healthy economy – sustainable mining, forestry, tourism, agriculture and small businesses; supporting our seniors; building up wildlife populations; ensuring stable funding for education; renovating or replacing Mt Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook; implementing the United Nations Declaration On The Rights of Indigenous People here in the unceded territory of the Ktunaxa people; supporting our municipal governments; reducing poverty and homelessness; a new Columbia River Treaty; Climate change.

You need an MLA that you know will work with you, and for you, in meeting these challenges.

Let’s not forget what past BC Liberal governments were like, cutting local health care and senior’s care and attacking teachers and our kid’s education in court.

As for the Green party, their leader Andrew Weaver left the party this fall saying he supports John Horgan for Premier. Enough said…!

John Horgan has worked hard to earn your respect over the last three years - he is one of the most highly rated premiers in Canada!

I am looking forward to working with John Horgan, and with you, as your MLA for Kootenay East. Thank you for your support and your vote in this very important election!

Kerri Wall - BC Green Party, Kootenay East

It’s hard to love a snap election. This political move - which favours those already in power and folks able to mobilize instantly – is being openly criticized. Yet one thing is sure: John Horgan would not have broken his agreement with the BC Greens if he didn’t feel supremely confident that his party would come out on top. This means that you can vote for your values.

The cooperative response in the legislature to the coronavirus pandemic, along with the competence of Dr. Bonnie Henry and her team, had many of us feeling good about our provincial government. However, that brief spell was broken four weeks ago and we are again in the tug of war that is British Columbia politics.

May I remind you about the stable and scandal-free government that we have enjoyed since 2017? B.C. residents caught a glimpse of what can happen when we aren’t in an entrenched two-party system. With 3 BC Green MLAs, we experienced unprecedented levels of collaboration and holding government accountable – and we all benefited because of it. Competition and domination may make headlines, but quite honestly, regular people are sick of old-fashioned power grabs and lies.

My decision to run as an MLA candidate with the BC Green Party came out of two fundamental desires: 1) to offer residents of Kootenay East a more democratic and thoughtful election process than simply the battling polarities of the usual suspects, and 2) to give voters the opportunity to choose genuine climate action on their ballot. We know neither the BC NDP nor the BC Liberals truly understand the urgency citizens feel about this crucial issue, so if you are concerned about the climate emergency voting Green is your only option. My third reason was deep frustration.

I have been employed by Interior Health for ten years. In my role, I support municipalities and regional districts to develop healthy public policy and plans. My work with local government staff and elected officials around the Kootenays has focused on housing, childcare, affordability, food security, and climate change. Unfortunately, our hands are often tied because of barriers that exist at higher levels of government.

The frustration I feel is due to watching multiple overlapping crises get worse despite my years of effort. The pandemic – a massive crisis – has highlighted how desperate the other emergencies really are. We now have an economic & employment crisis to add to the overdose emergency. Plus we have our climate emergency and a housing crisis. And thanks largely to technology and social media, more and more people realize we have been in the middle of a racism and genocide crisis for a very long time.

In a healthier democracy no one party has all the power. In a healthier democracy, scientific evidence guides the creation of legislation. In a healthier democracy, we have elected representatives with diverse perspectives, puting ideas on the table, and collaborating to find solutions quickly. This is the promise of Sonia Furstenau and the BC Greens.

British Columbians can play a big role in shaping this province by electing more BC Greens to keep government accountable. Green Party MLAs put people before politics and focus on evidence-based decision-making. Nobody needs to vote strategically in this election. Instead, cast a vote for collaboration, imagination, and reconciliation.

Samson Boyer - BC Green Party, Columbia River- Revelstoke

I have been an instructor, student, farmer, manager, director. But at the end of the day I am a resident of the Kootenays and I am terrified for my future. Terrified of the effects of Climate change. While running this campaign I have been taking a full university course load and it’s freaking hard. Not because there is too much to do (there kind of is) but because I am overwhelmed with the feeling that I have to do more to fight climate change. As a young person my generation and my children’s generation will face the brunt of climate change. To be honest I’m tired, tired of watching politicians ignore the science, tired of the inaction, tired of the uphill battle. But I can’t give up and I won’t, I want a future for myself and my children.

I believe that we need to do politics differently, that’s why I’m running for the Green Party. We can work together to solve the problems we all face, a minority government is the closest thing to a representative system we ever had. If you choose to vote for me in this election we will have an MLA that not only wants to listen and engage with our communities, but will represent our views in Victoria, working with the other parties to get what we need. I promise honesty and openness, I want the bills that I vote on to be discussions we have as a community and I want my record known to the voters so that I can be held accountable. I am young, but I believe that we want to do better and I want to get us there.

Nicole Cherlet - BC NDP, Columbia River-Revelstoke

My name is Nicole Cherlet. I am a city councillor, small business owner, and your BC NDP candidate for Columbia River-Revelstoke.

I’ve been enjoying the conversations I’ve been having with British Columbians in our communities; we are lucky to have so many open spaces to stay safe while we connect. The stories are varied, but have common threads - affordability, staying safe, access to health care and mental health supports, childcare and housing. We shared our optimism about the progress made in the last 3 years, and our ideas for how we can move forward together.

BC is being held up as a leader in responding to the pandemic. By listening to the experts like Dr. Bonnie Henry, taking concrete action, and the hard work of frontline workers, we kept our numbers low and the curve relatively flat. We need to keep moving forward. I put my name forward this election because I believe the BC NDP are the right people to ensure we build a recovery from the COVID-19 that includes everyone – not just those at the very top.

For too many years under the BC Liberals, people in rural communities like ours were largely ignored when it came to investments in essential services. We can’t go back to how it was before and throw away the progress we’ve made on issues like $10-a-day childcare, the opioid crisis, and the environment. Instead of tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, like Andrew Wilkinson is proposing, we need to keep investing in people – better healthcare for seniors, skills training for workers, and affordable housing for families. And we need to keep investing in connectivity so more people can effectively work and learn from home.

We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change in Columbia River-Revelstoke and owe it to future generations to do our part. The BC NDP worked closely with Dr. Andrew Weaver to develop CleanBC – the most ambitious climate plan in North America. We now have an economic opportunity to ‘build back better’ and tackle climate change while creating good jobs.

I also believe that we need a comprehensive land-use plan for the Columbia Valley that is developed and truly led by the community. Prior to the election, I was working with the provincial government to support this approach – a community-driven process – that will lead to decisions that balance environmental, social, and economic values. We can’t go back to a patchwork approach to environmental management and regulation - one valley here, one project there, influenced by who was involved at the time.

The business owners I’ve talked to are ready to adapt and move forward, they just need an affordable world for their staff and customers. The community organizations I’ve been meeting with are connected to the people who need help, when we let their voices come forward we can make effective change.

As a city councillor, I have seen the difference that having a diversity of perspectives makes at the decision-making table. With my experience as a small business owner, I know I can be a strong voice to represent our riding – and rural communities – in a BC NDP government led by John Horgan. It’s time that Columbia River-Revelstoke had a seat at the table in Victoria.

Doug Clovechok - BC Liberals, Columbia River-Revelstoke

I am respectfully asking the people of Kimberley to consider re-hiring me, Doug Clovechok as your MLA. Since 2017, I have been honoured to serve you and work on your behalf. The first thing I did when I was elected was open an office in Kimberley, which I am proud to now say is the first zero emission constituency office in BC, and likely Canada.

Together, we have accomplished a lot and got the Provincial Government working for you. We established Cherry Creek Falls Park, successfully advocated for increased funding for invasive species management and improved road conditions, made ministries aware of issues surrounding land concerns. I was able to secure a pilot project for wildfire mitigation after having worked closely with the City of Kimberley and BC Wildfire Services on the Meachen Creek fire. Over the past 3.5 years I have encouraged all constituents to reach out to me and my offices; I am grateful to those who have done so. I have been honoured to help many individuals and local businesses, particularly during these last 7 months.

Before I was elected as your MLA I worked in public education as a teacher, in the tourism industry, and owned a coffee shop with my wife and daughter. I am not a professional politician - I am an outdoorsman, father, and grandfather, who loves this work and considers it a privilege to work for you. You might not have voted for me before but I have worked hard to be a voice for everyone, regardless of your political affiliations I want to continue to put my skills, experience and knowledge to work for you.

I have heard from many people across the riding since COVID-19 hit in March who are worried about the future. Economically we have not been in a situation like this since the end of the WWII. That is why the BC Liberals are proposing decisive action to make life more affordable for our families and keep our local businesses open. Cutting the PST for one year without cutting government services will help more people shop local and have more money to spend on their families. Eliminating the small business tax will help our local businesses keep people working, particularly in the touriwsm industry that is critical to Kimberley and throughout our riding. Ending the ICBC monopoly will provide BC drivers with choice and savings in their car insurance, and we will expand affordable childcare with $10, $20, and $30 a day daycare for any households making under $125,000.

I believe that no one is entitled to your vote, but I also believe that I have worked hard to earn your vote and your trust. I promise that I will continue to work hard, listen to you, and make sure that you have an effective advocate here at home and in Victoria. My team and I are ready to get back to work for you, immediately. Please vote for me, Doug Clovechok on October 24th.

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998, and has been part of all those dynamic changes the newspaper industry has gone through over the past 20 years.
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