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Former Stockwell Day assistant Neufeld will seek federal Conservative nomination
A former assistant to Stockwell Day is seeking the Conservative nomination in the new federal riding of South Okanagan West Kootenay (SOWK).
Marshall Neufeld, 31, a Penticton real estate agent, announced Tuesday that he will be seeking the nomination.
He is endorsed by Day and is building a team that includes people who helped to elect the former cabinet minister and Okanagan-Coquihalla MP.
Meanwhile, Penticton City Councillor Helena Konanz has announced she will not to seek the federal Conservative nomination after all.
Konanz said she reconsidered her decision to seek the nomination when she reflected on how the commitment of being a federal MP would affect her family life.
Neufeld sought the Conservative nomination in Okanagan-Coquihalla in 2011, but lost to Dan Albas.
Born and raised in Penticton, Neufeld has been active on the national council of the Conservative Party of Canada. He has also served as the vice chair of the Penticton Christian School Board.
He worked as a parliamentary assistant to MP Stockwell Day in Ottawa from 2006 to 2008, having previously volunteered for Day as early as 2000 when Day was the leader of the Canadian Alliance Party.
Neufeld said Day was a mentor to him.
“Stockwell Day helped change my thinking about politics,” said Neufeld, who said he learned how much help to others a person can be through politics.
“There really is a lot of good people can accomplish in politics,” Neufeld said.
Penticton is currently in the riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, but under the redrawn federal electoral map, it is being added to the new SOWK riding.
The largest part of SOWK, however, encompasses area in the current riding of B.C. Southern Interior, currently held by Alex Atamanenko of the NDP. Atamanenko has announced he won’t run again in the next election, which is expected in 2015.
Neufeld said he has family in Castlegar and he also knows people in eastern parts of the riding such as Trail and Grand Forks through his work on the Conservative National Council.
He admitted, however, that he knows the Okanagan better, having grown up there.
His campaign manager will be John Brent, who was Day’s campaign manager in the 2004 and 2006 elections, he said.
“It’s important to have a good team in place both for the nomination and the election after it,” said Neufeld, adding that he also has support from Neil Jamieson, who was Day’s official agent in four elections.
“I have experienced people that are not only endorsing me, but are working on the campaign,” Neufeld said.
Neufeld completed college at Okanagan University College in Kelowna and worked at a hospital as a physiotherapy assistant and as a rehabilitation assistant in the extended care unit. He later worked with the Good Samaritan Society in Penticton.
He is single.
Konanz said her decision not to seek the nomination was her own and that her family supported her either way. She has a son and daughter aged 19 and 15.
“With the size of the riding and the commitment of travelling back and forth to Ottawa and servicing the Okanagan and Kootenays, I thought it would be detrimental to my family life,” Konanz said. “So I made a decision that was right for us at this time.”