Shelley Cook was acclaimed the NDP’s candidate for the upcoming Kelowna West byelection Sunday with Premier John Horgan by her side.-Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Shelley Cook named NDP’s candidate in Kelowna West

After losing to Christy Clark in May’s election, Cook will give it another shot in byelection

The Kelowna West NDP has formally named Shelley Cook its candidate for the upcoming provincial byelection in the riding.

Cook, was acclaimed Sunday when no one ran against her and will challenge the riding’s former Liberal MLA Ben Stewart, who stepped down in 2013 after being re-elected to allow former Liberal leader and premier Christy Clark to seek the seat in a byelection.

Clark won that vote easily and was re-elected in May’s provincial election. She quit politics in August and the seat has been vacant since then.

Premier John Horgan, who spoke at the nomination meeting, said he will call the byelection in January, meaning voters will go to the polls in early February after a 28-day campaign.

Cook who ran against Clark in May’s election and finished a distant second, said she is happy to give it a second try and feels she learned a lot during her first foray into provincial politics.

“I feel I have a lot more experience this time,” said the former executive director of the John Howard Society in Kelowna. She is currently pursuing a PhD at UBC.

Cook said she’s a realist and recognizes winning the riding in the upcoming byelection will be tough given Kelowna West’s history of electing Social Credit and B.C. Liberal candidates. But she said she feels it’s different this time with an NDP government in place and she’s confident she can win.

Cook has already been out talking to voters and issues such as jobs, housing affordability and the need for a medical centre on the west side of Okanagan Lake have all come up those conversations.

Horgan attended the nomination meeting Sunday and was scheduled to attend a party fundraising dinner later in evening in West Kelowna.

He told a packed room of NDP supporters that his government has already made good on half the election promises the NDP made during last spring’s election campaign.

And, following the meeting, he shrugged off complaints by critics his government has put too many issues out to studying and is not getting enough done.

He said his government has already made changes to help everyday British Columbians during its first 137 days in power, including taking away tax breaks for big banks, a move that has freed up $50 million a year to help pay for social program improvements.

On his way into the meeting, Horgan met with protesters outside calling on the new NDP government to kill the Site C project in northern B.C.

He said now that the project has been looked at by the B.C. Utilities Commission—something the previous government did not allow—his government will decide what to do about Site C in the near future. The protesters said they believe the cost of scrapping the project—about $4 billion—can be paid off over time without impacting the provincial budget drastically.

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