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West Kelowna councillor Rick de Jong plans to seek federal Tory nomination in SOWK
The number of people seeking the federal Conservative nomination in the new riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay (SOWK) has grown with West Kelowna councillor Rick de Jong now expressing interest.
De Jong publicly acknowledged last week what has long been rumoured – that he is interested in the nomination.
“I’m doing a lot of meetings,” he said, noting he has been talking to party members throughout the area. “I am definitely interested in seeking the nomination.”
While the nomination contest has not yet been called, two others, Marshall Neufeld of Penticton and Stephen Hill of Rossland, have previously announced plans to seek the nomination.
Neufeld was staffer to former MP Stockwell Day and Hill ran unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in 2011 in the present riding of B.C. Southern Interior.
Although de Jong currently lives in West Kelowna, which is outside SOWK, he said he has been doing business with this riding for the past 24 years.
“This is a riding I’m very familiar with,” said de Jong. “At present I work for a fertilizer manufacturer and I have been doing business with farmers and district municipalities right across the entire riding from Penticton to Oliver, Osoyoos, Grand Forks, Trail and Castlegar – the whole area.”
De Jong said he plans to emphasize two key issues – infrastructure and economic development, which he says are closely linked.
De Jong, who is the younger brother of B.C. finance minister Mike de Jong, is finishing his third year as a councillor in the District of West Kelowna.
The 45-year-old de Jong was born in New Westminster, B.C. and has lived in West Kelowna for 20 years. He has been married to Tracey de Jong for almost 22 years.
Prior to being elected as a councillor, de Jong had no previous elected political experience, but did chair an area planning committee for Central Okanagan Regional District. He also chaired an agricultural advisory committee and sat on the board of variance.