Larger federal ridings means more footwork for candidates in next October’s election.
Marshall Neufeld, the Okanagan-West Kootenay riding’s Conservative Party candidate, is prepared to do what it takes to represent all voters from Penticton to Trail to Nakusp.
“I’m already seeing this as essentially being two MPs,” he said during a brief stop at the Trail Times office.
He agreed that the needs of voters in Penticton vary drastically from voters, for example, in Nakusp.
“You have to do double duty. It is really two small ridings they have put together. (The West Kootenay and the Okanagan areas) are different from an economic standpoint and just a lifestyle mindset.”
Neufeld plans to manage the differing political environments by dividing his time between the two regions.
“I feel that if I get the honour of the people making me their MP, I am going to have to be splitting my time and have it seen as two ridings,” he said. “(I won’t) just fly back from Ottawa (to Penticton). Presumably, I would fly back to Penticton one weekend, and the next weekend fly back to Trail or Castlegar. You have to be seen as representing two areas, or else one area is going to be ignored, and that can’t be. There has to be a presence.”
The federal election is 13 months away, but Neufeld wanted to get an early start on the campaign trail, meeting voters and building relationships.
“I think the strategy is the same whether you are in Conservative territory or NDP (like Trail),” he said.
“Just getting out and meeting as many people as you can. It’s about having conversations on their doorsteps, hearing what their concerns are and allow people to realize that they are going to be heard no matter what their opinion is.
“We can have a reasonable discussions no matter what the subject is.”
Although it is still early in the campaign, Neufeld has a few plans for the Greater Trail Area.
“At this time, I am looking forward to setting up meetings with the people at Teck and right next door in Rossland at Red Mountain,” he said.
“Any other businesses or industries that want to meet, I want to listen to their ideas.”
Neufeld plans to build on those doorstep meetings and making sure he is a recognizable figure in the Trail area.
“It is one vote at a time,” he said.
“It is a slow process, but we have over a year to do it. I am going to learn a lot over the next year about what people’s views are and I am excited about that.
“All I want to do right now is get out and meet people.”