Race is on in Southern Interior

Like it or not, another federal election campaign is underway and local candidates are getting prepped for a one-month sprint to the finish.

Canada’s 41st election is set for May 2, when the Southern Interior riding’s two-time winner – Alex Atamanenko of the NDP – will line up against Conservative Stephen Hill, Liberal Shann Lavell and Green Party candidate Bryan Hunt.

It’s the first election for the three candidates running against incumbent Atamanenko but all are confident in their chances.

“I always run to win,” said the Green Party’s Bryan Hunt. “But I think the biggest obstacle will be Atamanenko.”

Hunt is an architectural software developer originally from Kaslo but living and working in Calgary and intends to return to the area to begin campaigning this week.

He ran in the provincial election for the Alberta Green Party in 2008.

Newly appointed Liberal candidate Lavell lives in Kelowna outside the riding but was offered the uncontested seat just last week after failing to win in her own riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla.

Lavell, a councillor and specialized foster parent, recognizes the importance of having a Liberal option even though they have not won the riding in over 100 years. Atamanenko’s stiffest competition will likely emerge from Trail resident Stephen Hill who is already on the campaign trail and is confident of both personal victory and a Conservative majority.

The most recent public opinion poll had the federal Conservatives ahead with 36 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 28 per cent, the NDP at 20 per cent, the Bloc at nine per cent and the Green Party at eight per cent.

The Southern Interior riding stretches from Princeton to Salmo and up to Kaslo, an area of about 26,700 square kilometres.

The Times will run a profile of each of the candidates in the upcoming weeks preceding the election.