In her first time running in an election, the new federal Liberal candidate for the Southern Interior has been researching the vast riding she’s undertaken, should an election campaign get underway.
Shan Lavell lives in Kelowna but isn’t concerned about her home address not falling into this riding, which covers Salmo in the east to Princeton in the west and the U.S. border north to Kaslo, including Nelson.
“The region itself is huge, it doesn’t matter where I live – I’d still be traveling,” she said.
And that’s what she intends to do, all while getting a handle on the communities that comprise the riding.
The 55-year-old with a nursing degree and a master’s degree in counselling psychology was selected to represent the riding last week after she failed to secure a seat in Okanagan/Coquihalla riding.
“It was a delightful surprise,” she said, when she was called by Liberal Sharon Apsey to take the uncontested seat.
“I feel happy to be in such good company and that people of the Southern Interior get a choice,” she said, referring to NDP MP Alex Atamanenko and Stephen Hill, the federal Conservative candidate.
The riding has switched back between the Tories and NDP for decades and hasn’t seen a federal Liberal in power for over 100 years.
The Liberal candidate in the 2008 election, Brenda Jagpal, got the least votes of the major parties — 3,292. Atamanenko won with 22,693 votes, Conservative Rob Zandee drew 17,122, Green Andy Morel earned 4,573 and Marxist-Leninist candidate Brian Sproule only 80.
Though Lavell has only been a member of the party for a year, sitting on the board of the Kelowna Lake Country Federal Liberal Association, she said she’s long been passionate about creating change.
“I’m a big thinker and I have been for a while,” she said, adding that she’s wanted to run for a leadership role for the past 15 years. “I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time.”
See LAVELL, Page 3
Lavell first found her voice in politics after taking an advocacy-training course with the B.C. Cancer Agency that concentrated on the financial impact cancer could have on people and their family. The campaign led her to Ottawa where she spoke with the nation’s decision-makers.
“Politicians are just people,” she said. “I don’t want to be scared off by the bully-zone idea. I’ve worked in high stress places, I know how to make friends to help me get through it.”
As a single mother, Lavell raised her two children and still plays that role today, acting as a foster parent for hard-to-house youth.
“This is where community is so important. That’s what I love about the Southern Interior, a lot of close communities that work well together,” she said.
The specialized foster parent who houses up to five youth in her home formerly worked as a nurse in pediatrics and family practice.
“It’s a delicate balance,” she said of staying in health care while taking up politics. “I’m going to run this campaign the same way that women run their lives – with children and youth in the centre of their hearts.”
While she is still learning the political ropes, Lavell feels her desire to make policies that will positively impact families will guide her on her new path.
“It’s the kind of thing that I’m passionate about – making an economic case for investing in people.”