As part of our B.C. election coverage, the Penticton Western News asked candidates to submit a bio about themselves, why they are running and what is the most important issue in the Penticton riding.
Although born in Edmonton, Alberta, my family moved to Penticton within two weeks and moved to Summerland eight years later. I have always considered myself an Okanaganite and British Columbian.
My high school education was at Summerland Secondary and this was further enhanced by additional education in Washington State.
I have always fortified my formal education with a healthy dose of common sense and adhering to the principles of financial responsibility and accountability.
Included in my learning was a five-year commitment as an RCMP auxiliary member.
Our family business was in apparel, with locations throughout southern British Columbia.
This always gave me a wider perspective of larger and smaller town business viability and the importance of always giving back to the community.
Coleton and Chantal are my grown-up children, both of whom have brought me a truer perspective of life.
I’ve served on the community organizations of the Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society, Art Gallery, Crime Stoppers, Okanagan Basin Water Board and the Penticton Chamber of Commerce. Elected in 1999 it was a privilege to serve five terms on Penticton city council, of which one and a half were as the mayor.
Included in that tenure were 11 yearly appointments to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, 10 of which were served as the chair.
Upon leaving the mayor’s position and after all the restructuring and downsizing city council had to initiate, I felt it was only fair and right that the city not incur any additional expenses for a by-election, so I personally paid all the costs.
Elected in 2013 as the MLA. Four years on treasury board, two years as secretary to the minister of finance, six years on the finance committee with four years as the chair and two as the vice-chair. 2020 has been very productive reviewing the Personal Information Protection Act as the vice-chair.
A very busy seven years, but I never forget who I represent – the citizens of Naramata, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland and surrounding areas.
What are your reasons for running in this election?
When I first put my name forward to run as an MLA, the improvements to Penticton Hospital was a critical need that had to be addressed.
I am incredibly proud that our BC Liberal government made that a priority and committed to the required provincial funding. Today, this project with the additional support of regional taxpayers and private donors is a reality.
We are now in a situation where tourism and agri-tourism, two very important industries to our region are being ignored at a critical time. Small business, manufacturing and British Columbia need an economic recovery plan, and instead of that, we have John Horgan and the NDP offering up an unnecessary election.
I cannot in good faith walk away when so much that is vital to the South Okanagan and our incredible province is being ignored by the NDP government. They have ignored the economic engines of prosperity that have contributed to the benefits and services for every citizen of B.C.
There is also one other very important item that needs to be addressed, and I will speak more to this later in the campaign.
What do you believe to be the three most important issues for riding.
We no longer have the luxury of having just a few important issues to focus on.
Agriculture is vital to our region, the shortage of farm labour has left fruit in the orchard and that is revenue and opportunity lost. From an agri-tourism standpoint, a plan of action is required to deal with border closures, travel restrictions and inter-provincial trade. We currently have nothing.
Forestry has long been a driver of our local economy and there needs to be a better plan for value-added timber products. Small businesses need to keep the doors open. Neighbourhoods must be safe and free of petty crime that happens nightly.
We need a COVID-19 recovery plan.
The NDP knows these things and rather than offering up a comprehensive plan to help the province, they offer up an election.
The BC Liberals have a proven track record of building for all the citizens here in the South Okanagan. The Okanagan College campus expansion here in Penticton? We did it. The Skaha Bluffs Class A Provincial Park? We did it. The SOEC? We supported it when the NDP wanted to cancel it. UBC Okanagan? We did that as well. We have a track record of getting things done.
BC Liberals will do better. You have my word on that.
What works have you done for the community prior to deciding to run for election?
As mayor of Penticton, we held the line on taxes and still upgraded our water and wastewater infrastructure as well as our community centre and pool. During the same time, I also worked cooperatively with the province and a private landowner to see the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park established.
In my role as the chair of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board, we achieved many accomplishments regionally – the Okanagan Falls sewer project is a good example as it benefits the Okanagan river system that feeds our beautiful southern lakes and spawning salmon habitat that the First Nations have worked so hard to re-establish.
I am also very proud of the work I did with former Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger. The Skaha Hills development, associated sewer infrastructure and the new bridge that opened economic opportunities on the lands where the new Nissan dealership is located. It is critical for communities to work together for the shared interest of our region.
I will always proudly advocate for thinking regionally and working in a cooperative and collaborative manner.
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