Creston’s Wesly Graham loses Tory nod to Sparwood mayor

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  • Mar. 26, 2011 5:00 p.m.

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks will succeed Jim Abbott when he represents the Conservative Party in the next federal election.

Wilks squeaked out a narrow victory over Cranbrook lawyer John Zimmer. Ballots were collected at several Kootenay-Columbia communities and were counted in Cranbrook on Saturday night. Three counts were held before Wilks emerged victorious over Zimmer, Creston’s Wesly Graham and Russ Kinghorn, also of Cranbrook.

“Wilks ran a great campaign,” Graham said on Tuesday. “Our job now is to work together to get him elected.”

“I am deeply honoured to accept the nomination when the field of four candidates was as strong as it was,” Wilks said on Saturday. “We traveled to Revelstoke, Golden, Inver-mere, Creston, Sparwood, Kimberley and Cranbrook, and the support from the membership in each community was overwhelming.”

The retired RCMP officer is currently the mayor of Sparwood, also serving as a director of the Regional District of East Kootenay board. He is a board member of the Capital Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, and co-chair of the Mayors and Chairs Highway No. 3 Coalition. He also runs a business in the Elk Valley.

Wilks’ main challenge is expected to come from Mark Shmigelsky, former mayor of Invermere, who was selected last month to represent the New Democratic Party. The Liberal Party has yet to name a candidate for a federal election that could be called as early as this week.