Michaels: Central Okanagan gets unprecedented number of viable candidates this election

"It’s not polite to speak ill of the un-elected, but in this riding it’s been hard not to..."

It’s not polite to speak ill of the un-elected, but in this riding it’s been hard not to.

Reflecting on fields of candidates past is a disheartening reminder of what a political hinterland Kelowna can be.

That’s not to say  we’ve been subjected to a lot of chumps on the stump. Or that there haven’t been any, either. It’s just been abundantly clear that the vast majority of candidates running in local elections were following their conscience to run a no-hope campaign because, well, someone had to. This has, after all, been a riding that had only one non-conservative representative in the history of Elections Canada.

As such, we’ve had candidates who had the intelligence, the passion and nowhere near the public presence we know politicians need.

We’ve had others who have had the public presence, but lacked experience.

We’ve had a couple straight up duds who should have done a Toastmasters bootcamp and bothered to learn their own party’s platform before heading to an all-candidates forum and wasting everyone’s time.

Note to political hopefuls: A nice outfit and decent resumé do not a politician make.

Then we’ve had the Conservatives. Always toeing the line. Always knowing the content of their party binder. Always blue.

As far as MPs go, our most recent batch of local elected officials are downright decent human beings who I have personally watched work hard for the electorate. They’re even likable.

But they ran in what amounted to a sure-thing riding. That’s not healthy for the electorate. It’s the kind of thing that conjures the apathy that stops Canadians from heading to the polls. It kind of sucks.

This election, however, there’s a tangible shift from tried-and-blue to something that feels a bit more like a democracy, and that’s been demonstrated by this field of candidates.

There are some incredibly well-spoken, telegenic people who aren’t Conservative vying to be our local MPs and it’s exciting.

Whether you’re looking at the world through tangerine- or cherry-coloured glasses, whether you’re on this side of the bridge or the other, there are options. Real options. This isn’t a one-horse election. This isn’t a plug-your-nose-and-cast-a-ballot-for-some-person-you-don’t-really-believe-in election.

Sound, well-educated, well-spoken people are pushing against the tide of history, offering pithy, on-point barbs at debates and personal insights when questioned. Most of all, they’re giving more Okanaganites a chance to have their unique perspective voiced on a national stage.

I think we need to applaud them and ourselves for that alone.

This city has become more dynamic and diverse and as such we’ve attracted more dynamic and diverse candidates.

What will happen election day remains to be seen. But this time I won’t be sitting it out waiting to hear the inevitable news. I’m all in, and I hope you are too.

(Note to letter writers: Anything before Elections Canada’s records for this riding is not accounted for.)