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NDP forms new federal association in re-drawn riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay
Federal New Democrats in the area took an important step towards the next election when they founded a new riding association on Saturday.
Members met at the Sonora Community Centre in Osoyoos to establish an association for the new federal district of South Okanagan-West Kootenay (SOWK).
Elections Canada has redrawn the federal political map to reflect changes in population and the expansion of the House of Commons. SOWK replaces the present riding of B.C. Southern Interior, and includes portions of the present riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, including Penticton.
Current NDP MP Alex Atamanenko, who will not be running again, said the establishment of the new association is an important first step.
This will allow the NDP to nominate a new candidate to replace him in the next federal election expected in 2015.
No date has been set for the nomination meeting, but Bev Onischak, membership secretary, said the party wants a candidate in place by the end of May and the association wants one sooner in order for that person to participate in local parades this spring.
The party is considering having two or three separate nomination meetings to make it easier for people in different parts of the riding to attend, Onischak said.
Only two people have announced plans to seek the nomination, but Onischak said others have picked up papers or expressed an interest. Saturday’s meeting established a search committee to look for other possible candidates.
The two who have announced already are Margaret Maximenko, of Christina Lake, and Richard Cannings of Penticton. Maximenko is a former board member in her regional district, and Cannings is a well-known environmentalist and author. Cannings ran and lost in last May’s provincial election.
“I think they’re both strong candidates,” said Atamanenko. “They bring a wealth of experience and I think either one of them would be a really good representative for this area.”
At Saturday’s meeting, attended by about 60 people, the new riding association also selected an executive.
The president is Vincent Salvo of Castlegar and the vice president is Dave Ligertwood of Penticton.
Onischak said the executive is well balanced between the new riding’s four regions: Penticton, South Okanagan, Boundary and West Kootenays.