B.C. Election – Conroy awaiting challengers for Kootenay riding

Katrine Conroy's campaign office officially gets under way on Tuesday.

Kootenay West MLA, Katrine Conroy is as surprised as anyone that none of the other political parties in the province have put forward any candidates to challenge her for her seat.

The official start to the May provincial election begins Tuesday as does the official nomination period.

“It’s kind of odd, so far there’s nobody” said Conroy Wednesday afternoon from Prince George, where she had been attending meetings in her role as senior’s critic for the NDP. “There is supposedly one fellow who is potentially interested but he’s not ready to declare yet.”

The Trail Times learned Thursday that 29-year-old Joseph Hughes, of Nakusp, he has filed the necessary papers with Elections BC and is awaiting confirmation as an independent candidate for MLA next week.

At this point in the run up to the election one other NDP candidate, opposition Health Critic Mike Farnworth, MLA for Port Coquitlam also has no declared candidates to oppose him.

Even without any officially declared challengers, Conroy has been actively working to prepare for the May 14 provincial election.

She said that her campaign’s fundraising has been done, the election signs have been made, her team leaders and volunteers have all been drafted and prepared, and her campaign office officially opens in Castlegar this Saturday.

“We’re ready. I’m not taking this for granted,” said Conroy. “I feel I have to earn the right to represent this constituency and I don’t take that lightly.

“This is a whole different ball game compared to the last election, but it would be good to have someone to run against because I want to be able to talk about our party platform and what we want to do for the province and our constituency.”

Conroy acknowledged that the amount of planning and organization needed to launch an election campaign is considerable but isn’t willing to rest on her laurels.

“I’m not counting anyone out yet,” she said. “They have until April 26 to nominate someone.”

If Hughes’ run at the MLA’s seat for Kootenay West does become official he will be facing somewhat long odds.

There are currently four sitting Independent members of the legislature; John van Dongen, former Liberal MLA in Abbotsford South, John Slater, former Liberal MLA for Boundary Similkameen, Bob Simpson former NDP MLA in Cariboo North, and Vicki Huntington of Delta South. Of those four only Huntington was elected as an independent narrowly beating out her opponent, former Liberal Attorney General Wally Opal, by 32 votes.

“I’m assuming the Liberals will come up with somebody, but I understand it could be daunting for someone to come in this late in the game.” said Conroy. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

Voter registration is open until April 23. with advance voting running from May 8th to the 11. General voting day is Monday, May 14th.

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