|Mischa Popoff released an outrageously funny video, speaking to the camera while accompanied by a live bull, during the provincial election campaign of 2013.|
But closer to home the general election created its own drama, intrigue, conspiracy theories and subplots. It was named the South Okanagan's No. 1 news story for 2013 as chosen by The Penticton Herald's news department.
Perhaps the most bizarre riding in the province was Boundary-Similkameen which includes Kaleden, Okanagan Falls, Oliver and Osoyoos. Three of the candidates chosen to represent their parties didn't finish the campaign.
Incumbent John Slater was told in January he was no longer welcome in the Liberal caucus for reasons never disclosed to the public. Slater was eventually invited back to sit with the Liberals by Clark but he declined stating he would instead seek re-election as an independent.
Shortly after, Vancouver blogger Alex G. Tsakumis claimed to have "exceedingly disturbing information" in his possession and urged Slater and the perceived front-runner Marji Basso of the NDP to contact him within 48 hours.
Both Slater and Basso sent press releases within an hour of one another with the latter stating "personal reasons" behind her abrupt withdrawal but failed to elaborate. Tsakumis never disclosed what this information was or who provided it or where it came from.
Linda Larson, a town councillor from Oliver and former mayor, was appointed by the Liberals. The NDP held a new nomination meeting with Sam Hancheroff, a school board trustee and Kaleden orchardist, receiving the nod.
Meanwhile, Mischa Popoff, the Conservative candidate, was ousted by leader John Cummins after a series of articles he had written as a freelancer surfaced which were deemed sexist. One, which some found disturbing, was a tirade against single mothers.
Popoff immediately fought back, declared he was running as an independent, and posted an outrageously funny video on Youtube titled "Mischa Popoff Will Not Be Bullied." In the four-minute video he gave his take on the riding and local politics over the past 10 years. Within one week he had more than 25,000 hits on YouTube.
Although likely unintentional, the talk in the community went from Popoff being removed to "Have you seen Mischa Popoff's video?"
In the end, Boundary Similkameen followed the provincial trend by sending Larson to Victoria with a mandate of 8,499 votes. Hancheroff scored 7,113; Green candidate John Kwasnica 1,602; Popoff 655 and marijuana advocate Doug Pederson 385.
The result was somewhat of a surprise considering Boundary Similkameen had the highest number of citizens sign the anti-Harmonized Sales Tax petition only three years earlier.
The Penticton riding lacked the same drama, until after the election.
With the proposed expansion for Penticton Regional Hospital being the main issue, all party leaders basically promised the hospital would be built.
Mayor Dan Ashton, who took a leave of absence from his duties during the campaign, easily won with 10,489 votes. Author and renowned bird watcher Dick Cannings gave the NDP a nine per cent improvement over the 2009 election but it wasn't enough as he was second with 9,225 votes. Conservative Sean Upshaw, the unofficial winner of Penticton's all-candidates forum, was third with 2,117 and political newcomer Doug Maxwell of the BC First party fourth at 1,057.
Ashton's resignation as mayor wasn't immediate which created speculation he was offering his seat to Clark, who failed to win her own riding.
Ashton said the rumours were unfounded and that was indeed the case as Ben Stewart surrendered his seat in Westside-Kelowna to the premier. Clark easily won that riding in a by-election.
Ashton's victory triggered a by-election in Penticton and Coun. Garry Litke won in a landslide against challengers Vic Powell and Brian Henningson, neither who had any political experience. A separate election was held for Litke's spot on council which was won by Katie Robinson, an unsuccessful mayoral candidate in 2011 who previously served on council in the 1990s. She beat four other challengers including Chamber of Commerce president Andre Martin, who was second.
Sticking to his word made while seeking the Liberal nomination, Ashton paid the cost of the by-election.
With Litke's victory being a foregone conclusion, voters stayed home in droves.
Meanwhile in Oliver, a separate by-election was needed to fill Larson's spot. Larry Schwartzenberger beat eight other challengers and finished 12 votes ahead of runner-up Mo Basso, husband of Marji.
In Fraser-Nicola, NDP incumbent Harry Lali, a former cabinet minister, lost his seat to Liberal Jackie Tegart by more than 600 votes. Green candidate John Kidder, who ran unsuccessfully for the federal Liberals in Okanagan Coquihalla in the last federal election, was third with 9.6 per cent of the vote.
The following were chosen as the top 10 local stories of 2013 by The Penticton Herald's news department.
1. Provincial election
2. Keith Wiens guilty of murder
3. Lakeshore walkway
4. Challenge Penticton debuts
5. CIty battles hoteliers
6. Boat hits Kiwanis pier
7. Penny Lane closes
8. Oliver boy dies in RV fire
9. Princeton's double murder
10. Adam Fitzpatrick second in world