While the next provincial election is more than a year away, four people have already expressed interest in the Nelson-Creston Green Party nomination.
Former rural Kaslo regional director Andy Shadrack, who was the party’s candidate in the riding in 1996, will seek the nomination, as will former Nelson city councillor Kim Charlesworth. Regional District of Central Kootenay Area E director Ramona Faust and Sjeng Derkx, who ran for the party in 2013, are also thinking about it.
Whoever wins the nod will face New Democrat incumbent Michelle Mungall, who confirmed this week that she plans to seek a third term.
Shadrack said he started testing the waters in December and has already been going door-to-door in Kaslo, Creston, and on the East Shore.
“I don’t think old politicians ever retire,” he said. “There are some things I still haven’t got done.”
Shadrack served on the RDCK board from 2005 to 2014. He said during a visit to the legislature he was “absolutely appalled that nothing had changed since 1973 when I was last there at question period. One side gets up and asks questions and everyone’s banging on the table. Then the other side gets up and they’re banging on the table. Neither side is listening to each other.”
On that day, he said, Andrew Weaver, the lone Green MLA, and independent Vicki Huntingdon sat with their arms folded.
“I want to go to that legislature to change the way we do business,” he said.
Shadrack noted his previous bids for the Greens — which also included running federally in 1997 and 2000 and provincially in Columbia River-Revelstoke in 2005 — came before his election to the RDCK board, when he wasn’t as well known.
He wants the region to make strides on reducing carbon emissions by working with the Columbia Basin Trust. He’s also unhappy with child poverty rates and said health care remains a “huge” issue in Kaslo and on the East Shore.
He said he has been asked repeatedly since retiring from the regional district whether he would run provincially.
“I reflected on it. I went away and did some things for a year. Worked on a campaign in the UK for five weeks, worked on the [Canadian federal election] campaign, and decided I’ve got the stamina to still do it.”
Charlesworth, who served on Nelson council from 2008 to 2011 and is now the Nelson Food Cupboard’s co-ordinator, has been a longtime Green Party supporter. She said she started thinking about running provincially a year ago.
“I have the political experience. I’m interested in looking at issues from a broader perspective. I enjoyed when I was on council and we had the opportunity to work with provincial ministers and departments on issues. To me that’s how you can make a difference.”
Charlesworth said in addition to environmental issues, she is concerned with the economy.
“There are so many different ways to stimulate the economy on a smaller scale. The current government has done a terrible job. For whatever reason, they’re choosing to ignore those opportunities.
“I think the Green Party platform is really strong. It’s forward-thinking and you can’t get out of a mess with the same thinking that got you into it. The Green Party has lots of different thinking going on.”
Charlesworth also said she believes the results of the last federal election and recent provincial elections suggest “people are ready for change.
“We’ve belaboured the idea that young people won’t get out and vote. I think they’re starting to. They very much care about the world they’re inheriting. I think those things make it practically impossible to guess how things will go.”
Nevertheless, Charlesworth is optimistic about her chances.
“I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think I could win. I’m not doing it for the experience of running. I think I would be an excellent candidate.”
Charlesworth said it’s “incredibly positive” more than one person wants to run for the Greens in this riding.
Derkx said he hasn’t made up his mind yet, but noted “it certainly is a huge change from four years ago when I became the candidate by default because no one else wanted to. A little success goes a long way.”
He was referring to both the election in 2013 of the party’s first MLA and the fact that the Green share of the vote grew to about 21 per cent in Nelson-Creston, up from seven per cent in 2009.
“I think people believe we might actually be able to win it next time and think we desperately need a more effective MLA,” he said. “It’s not just about bringing home the bacon, but some bacon would be nice.”
Derkx said those who have shown interest are “all good people” and he is “delighted” the nomination will be contested. He’s also hopeful further contenders may step forward in the Creston area.
“At some point I’m going to decide if I have a better chance than the others to win the riding, or whether it’s best to support whoever becomes the candidate. I really do want a Green MLA. It’s not about me, it’s about getting effective representation.”
Faust, meanwhile, who has served on the RDCK board since 2008, said she is considering her options.
“I have a deep interest in green issues such as alternative energy, sustainable forestry small business development and food security,” she said.
“Given my schedule and responsibilities I want to ensure I make an informed choice and would be interested to discuss my candidacy with the Nelson-Creston Greens.”
No date has been set for a nomination meeting, but Bruce Edson, the party’s regional representative, said the timeline should become clearer in the next month.
Mungall, who is serving her second term as MLA, said she has “every intention to continue if the citizens would like to keep me.”
Although several people are lining up to challenge her, she said most of what she hears from constituents is positive.
“I’m always willing to get feedback, positive or negative, or constructive criticism. But most of it is ‘Keep up the great work, you’re doing such a good job.’”
Wall considers Liberal run
So far only one person has stepped forward as a possible Liberal candidate.
Tanya Wall (pictured at left), who served two terms on Creston town council before being elected to the Regional District of Central Kootenay board as a rural Creston director in 2014, is thinking about running provincially but hasn’t decided.
She said her first priority is opening a business with her partner in Creston, but she expects to have a better idea of where they’re at this spring.
Wall was elected president of the Liberal riding association in November and said she is “committed to helping the party become stronger in this riding.
“I do believe we need a change for the Nelson-Creston riding as the current MLA has not supported our local governments in my opinion. Being in local government as a councillor and now as a regional director for over seven years I can honestly say that I have not once had her assistance or support on any issues.”
In 2013, former Kokanee Springs general manager Greg Garbula was the Liberal candidate.
The election is set for May 9, 2017.