If Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton wins the B.C. Liberal nomination and gets elected as MLA next spring, he will pay for the ensuing city byelection.
Ashton made that promise Thursday as he ended weeks of speculation and officially declared he is seeking the Liberal candidacy for the Penticton riding in the May 2013 provincial election.
Ashton joins three other high-profile candidates in the running - Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino, former Okanagan Skaha school board chair Connie Denesiuk, and Summerland businessman Mark Ziebarth.
Local Liberal party members will choose their candidate on Oct. 20 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
Ashton, who has served on city council since 1999, including the past four years as mayor, said he would be willing to pay the city up to $35,000 to cover the costs of a byelection. If he gains the Liberal nod, Ashton plans to continue as mayor until the election writ is dropped next spring.
Pending council approval, he would take a leave of absence during the election campaign and resign as mayor if elected to Victoria.
"I will not be bringing provincial politics into the operation of City Hall or the operation of the regional district," he said.
Ashton has also served as chairman of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen for the past 11 years and points to his experience in civic and regional government as a major asset as MLA.
"A lot of the issues that this riding faces are within the regional district," he said. "I have a good general lay of the land and a good general lay of what the region has issues with."
Ashton sees the long overdue upgrade to Penticton Regional Hospital as his top priority. The proposed multimillion-dollar PRH expansion is at the top of the Interior Health's priority list but has yet to gain funding approval from the province.