Liberal party supporters are voting today to choose their representative for the Penticton riding in next year's provincial election. From left are, Mark Ziebarth, Connie Denesiuk, retiring MLA for Penticton Bill Barisoff, Janice Perrino and Dan Ashton. The four nominees gave a short speech at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre and will await the outcome of the winner which is expected to be announced about 4 p.m.
"I'm very proud that we have four great, exceptional candidates" retiring MLA Bill Barisoff told a large crowd at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, Saturday morning.
The retiring MLA and present Speaker of the House served as Master of Ceremonies for the nomination meeting.
Today card-carrying party members will choose his successor to run under the BC Liberal banner in the next provincial election.
Party members have until today to vote for the candidate of their choice, also listing their second and third preference. A winner is expected to be announced at today or shortly thereafter.
Candidates spoke by random draw for five minutes and were allowed a one-minute introduction by a person of their choice.
Introducing her father, Annie Ziebarth told the crowd of her dad's passion for politics and how he encouraged all of his children to dream big and then to do the hard-work necessary to achieve their dreams and goals.
"Today he is going from talking to doing," she said.
Mark Ziebarth began his address by asking, "What does an MLA do?".
He told a joke about an MLA and a robber and drew comparisons to how an MLA is responsible for spending taxpayers' money.
He said his three opponents were "much better politicians than I am" stating B.C. and the riding doesn't need another politician but rather a person who offers "results-oriented leadership."
"I will win this riding and do battle with our enemy, the NDP," Ziebarth said, concluding his address on the importance of free enterprise.
In conclusion, Ziebarth said he was listed fourth on the ballot due to his surname ending in Z.
"In baseball, fourth on the line-up is the power hitter who cleans up and that's what I will do," he said.
Introducing Connie Denesiuk, former Penticton city councillor Rory McIvor said she is "highly respected with deep roots in our community" and that as a school board trustee of 19 years "never wavered or waffled" in her duties.
Denesiuk described Saturday as "a good day to be a B.C. Liberal" calling for a round of applause for Barisoff.
She said her decision to seek the nomination was "a calling rather than a job" and noted that during her time on the local school board, Okanagan Skaha became a leader in the province with high graduation rates.
She acknowledged her "decisions were not always popular" but insisted that research was always done noting that she worked closely with various levels of government in her role as president of the BC School Trustees Association.
Rhyming off a long-list of community involvement, Denesiuk also spoke of the need to improve free enterprise during "fragile" economic times.
Jamieson said he asked the
Jamieson said his family and Ashton's have deep roots in the community which go back over 60 years.
He noted that Ashton works "quietly behind the scenes — he's not loud and aggressive" and is extremely effective.
Ashton spoke of his many accomplishments as mayor including conducting two core services reviews with the City of Penticton and RDOS noting both are now more "financially responsible and efficient."
He noted that in 2011
"This is absolutely unheard of anywhere in B.C.," said Ashton of holding the line on taxes.
He noted that by "standing up to CUPE", employees accepted raises of zero, one, one and one per cent over the next four years and that a new employee has to work their way up the pay scale.
He added that by securing funding through grant money projects such as water, waste water and the new community swimming pool became a reality and that the proposed walkway for Lakeshore Drive will utilize grant money "but only if costs stay within the grant amount."
He admitted that council did "stumble" at times but co-operated with such projects as a $5-million expansion to the helicopter school and that they are "very close" to securing WestJet service to the area.
Drawing last spot, Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino was introduced by retired physician Gerry Karr.
Karr noted that as a professional fundraiser for the past 14 years, Perrino has directly raised over $25-million for various causes most recently the hospital foundation.
Perrino said that when she was contemplating seeking the nomination, many told her that the B.C. Liberals "are in trouble."
She acknowledged challenges ahead but believes the Liberals will be re-elected.
She spoke specifically of projects in need of funding in Peachland (seniors housing), Summerland (waterlines and roads) and
As a fundraiser for the hospital she raised over $15-million in seven years there including some "advanced medical equipment."
She noted economic growth in Summerland during her four years of mayor.
"It was not a fun time to be mayor and I was often a punching bag in the media," she said, noting she kept taxes down and allowed the province to know Summerland was open for business.
She said the municipality has new roads, roundabouts and an RCMP detachment building under her leadership.
"I love the impossible," she said of the challenges facing the BC Liberals.
Barisoff encouraged party members to work together for whoever is elected today.
He predicted that Premier Christy Clark will be re-elected in the next provincial election which is scheduled for
The local riding of the NDP will choose its candidate in November.
Thus far former Summerland councillor David Finnis and noted ecologist Dick Cannings are the lone candidates to indicate an interest.
The Conservative and Green party have yet to announce their candidate.