EDITOR'S NOTE: Tina Lee, president of the NDP riding association in South Okanagan-West Kootenay insists she was misquoted in an article which appeared in Friday's Penticton Herald. In an email, Lee states: "I didn't say I agreed with the central party's decision not to hold a nomination meeting. I do believe after all of the overwhelmingly positive feedback from members, that the outcome would have been the same and I'm thrilled with Toni (Boot) as a candidate. I like the excitement of nomination meetings and wish we would have had one to bring us to this outcome. Doug (Holmes) is a great guy and I'll stand behind him in whatever he does. "
When Toni Boot was announced Wednesday as the NDP’s candidate for Penticton, nobody was more surprised than Doug Holmes.
Holmes, a two-term councillor in Summerland and vice-chair of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, was also interested in the seeking the nomination.
He even filed his paperwork with party headquarters to run as a candidate in the nomination process, but learned Wednesday he had been turned down.
"I was told my paperwork was all in good order, (the party) thought I'd be an excellent candidate, but the provincial executive wanted Toni as the candidate to promote diversity within the party,” said Holmes.
“I'm OK with that, but there needs to be a better way to promote diversity than by undermining democracy."
Party president Craig Keating told The Herald Friday only Boot and Holmes filed to be candidates. He refused comment on Holmes' situation, citing privacy reasons.
Holmes said the party encouraged him to seek the nomination, so he was surprised to be suddenly cast aside.
"Wasn't diversity important a year ago, six months ago, two weeks ago?" said Holmes.
“My biggest disappointment is that local party members are denied the opportunity to choose their own candidate. I'm especially sorry for the people who nominated me and supported me and were happy to see me involved."
Tina Lee, president of the NDP’s Penticton riding association, agreed with the party's decision not to hold a nomination meeting.
"New Democrats always love a good debate," Lee said. "But, the amazing, positive feedback over the last day-and-a-half has been overwhelming. With Toni, we have an amazing candidate, one the people want to support and get behind."
Holmes said he will remain neutral during the election and not publicly support a candidate. He will not run as an independent.
Keating said there are other situations across the province similar to Holmes’, but did not provide any examples.
There will, however, be a nomination meeting in nearby Boundary-Similkameen, where Keating said the party has two “excellent” candidates approved.
Boot said previously she will seek a leave of absence from her job as Summerland mayor for the election, which is expected this fall, but hasn’t officially been called yet.