Westside-Kelowna residents will be lining up at the polls again, less than two months after they decisively voted in former Liberal MLA Ben Stewart.
Premier Christy Clark announced Wednesday morning the riding’s byelection will take place July 10.
Last week Stewart told a crowd of media and supporters he would be stepping aside so Clark—who lost her Vancouver-Point Grey seat to David Eby in the provincial election—could run in a Westside-Kelowna byelection.
The premier will be up against New Democratic Party candidate Carole Gordon, who earned earned 30.5 per cent of the Westside-Kelowna vote May 14, and Conservative candidate Sean Upshaw, who ran in Penticton during the provincial election and earned nine per cent of the vote.
Both Gordon and Upshaw plan to focus their campaigns on a local angle. Gordon stated the difference of her proximity to the riding compared to the premier’s distance from Westside-Kelowna is “a five-minute walk versus a five-hour drive.”
When asked how she plans to compete with the other candidates’ local stance, Clark said: “The community could choose to be represented by a premier or…could choose to be represented by a member of the opposition NDP.
“In terms of being able to deliver for the community, I think a premier is certainly in a better position to be able to do that.”
She added she plans to establish a second residence in the region, if elected.
“I’m going to be up there a lot more than I think my opponents would suggest.”
Clark said she intends to continue focusing on issues Stewart was working on over the past four years.
“One of them is obviously Westside Road,” said Clark.
“It’s embarrassing, it’s the worst road in the province — we need to fix it.”
She added healthcare is an important local issue.
“We need to make sure appropriate healthcare is available locally for people. I’ve heard a lot about that.”
The premier said she will also continue to focus on bigger picture issues, such as economic growth and government spending.
“I think this byelection, just like the general election, is going to be as much about growing the economy and strong leadership to get us through difficult times as it is about the important local issues.”
Clark plans to be in the region for “at least a few weeks” during the campaign. Last week she told reporters she plans to door knock and take time to listen to people’s local issues.
She added she’d consider taking part in an all-candidates meeting, depending on her schedule in Victoria. Although, Clark skipped all debates at the riding level during last month’s provincial campaign.
Stewart also chimed in the matter, rejecting the idea that voters in the riding might scoff at an outsider coming in to represent the area.
“I think that the voters have a much greater insight that it’s necessary,” he said. “We need to have the premier in the house, and that’s one of the reasons why stepping aside to help her do what I believe is necessary to govern is what’s important to British Columbia.”
Residents of Westside-Kelowna are eligible to vote if they are 18 years of age or older on July 10, they are a Canadian citizen and they have lived in B.C. for the past six months.
During the byelection, voters can vote: At the district electoral office until 4 p.m. on general voting day, at any advance voting location in the electoral district July 3 to 6 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at any voting place in the electoral district on July 10 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or by requesting a vote by mail package from the district electoral office or Elections B.C.
Voter registration for the byelection closes June 19 at midnight. Voters may register or update their voter information online at elections.bc.ca/ovr or by phone toll-free at 1-800-661-8683.
The dates, times and locations of advance and general voting opportunities will be posted on the Elections BC website, published in local newspapers, delivered to all Westside-Kelowna households in a byelection pamphlet and mailed to registered voters in the electoral district on yellow Where to Vote cards.