Nelson-Creston incumbent NDP MLA Michelle Mungall (right) speaks with Kootenay Lake School District superintendent Jeff Jones on Wednesday night before the education forum.

Breaking down the Nelson-Creston race

I had one of those unfortunate moments of adulthood earlier this week. A dilemma that pitted fun versus responsibility.

I had one of those unfortunate moments of adulthood earlier this week. A dilemma that pitted fun versus responsibility.

My hockey team was playing its last game of the season at the NDCC. It conflicted with a provincial election event I was going to help cover. It was a big game that pitted the crew I spent 40 nights of the winter with battling against our biggest rivals. My last chance to indulge in hockey before hanging up the blades for the summer.

I was torn. My wife can confirm that I generally choose fun over daily tasks around the house. Golf versus mowing the lawn? No contest.

Before heading to the event, I stopped by the rink to wish the crew luck. When I got into the dressing room they all gave me a hard time.

“Election? Nobody cares about that. Go get your gear,” said one of the grizzled vets on the team.

The rest of the crew agreed and chimed in about my duty to sport over politics. It took everything I had to pull myself away, but I did. Responsibility scored a rare victory that night.

So here we are. On the eve of another election. From what I can tell, there are very few that care about this all-important vote on Tuesday. And it’s not just the gang I play hockey with.

But it does matter and it should matter to you. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but since I’ve had an closer look at the race than most, I’ll break down the competitors for your “X.” And sticking with the sports-theme, I’ll do it in the typical way sports reporters break down an all-important playoff series.

 

SJENG DERKX

GREEN PARTY

Strengths: Derkx is one of the strongest candidates the Green Party has run in the Nelson-Creston riding in many years. It comes at a time when the Green Party is starting to get some much deserved traction in the political world.

Derkx has laid down solid roots in the Nelson area. On the local political scene he is a proven scrappy defender of democracy. He doesn’t shy away from standing up for the principles he feels make good government. In this campaign that has been obvious.

The Green Party platform is fresh and if elected Derkx would bring a strong voice to the people of this riding.

Weaknesses: Running under the banner of a party that has no chance of forming government is easy. You can basically throw out ideas that might be popular, but the reality is they’ll never see the light of day after May 14 because the Green Party will not be directing traffic in Victoria.

Though articulate and approachable, Derkx does lack some of the polish that would be required in the big leagues of BC politics. Even if he was elected as one of the voices of Green in Victoria, he might have a hard time getting traction.

 

MICHELLE MUNGALL

NDP

Strengths: Mungall has become a very good politician. Having been elected to both municipal and provincial seats of power, she’s a solid speaker and understands the workings of government much better than her competitors.

If the NDP form government, Mungall should be well positioned to hold a place of power in Victoria. She has worked hard on party issues over the last four years and is one of the Adrian Dix’s rising stars.

Weaknesses: Too often it seems like Mungall is more interested in politics than the people of her riding. It’s incredible to think that she doesn’t meet with local government leaders on a regular basis. The mayors, councillors, trustees and area directors are a direct link to the people. Mungall has taken the attitude of “they need to come to me.” That is the completely wrong approach and not one taken by previous MLAs like Corky Evans.

If the NDP form government, it would be hoped the stature of the Nelson-Creston riding would rise. Given Mungall’s allegiance to her party, that may not turn out to be visible on the streets of her hometown.

 

GREG GARBULA

LIBERAL PARTY

Strengths: Garbula has lived a life. He is a family man with a long career in the tourism and hospitality industry. He is truly an everyman that people can relate to. Initiation into politics should not come because one is simply interested, it should be after mileage is earned through life experience. That’s Garbula.

Though he lacks a politician’s polish, that is part of Garbula’s charm. He’s not afraid to say he doesn’t have the answer. He’s quick to ask you what your thoughts are on an issue. It can be argued that’s a weakness, but an open mind is something more of the gang in Victoria could benefit from.

Weaknesses: In the Nelson-Creston riding Garbula’s biggest weakness is his party’s past record and its platform. Many in Nelson will declare that the Liberals have not been kind to our community. Massive hacking of the public service and cuts to the hospital will confirm those fears.

If the Liberals do manage to return to power in Victoria, Garbula will be one of the most untested and therefore least influential within caucus. Though that may enable him to focus more on the individual needs of his constituents, it will leave us in BC’s political hinterland.

 

All three candidates deserve our utmost respect for putting their names forward. Their courage and passion is what makes democracy possible.

As for my hockey team, they won without me. Though sad to have missed it, there will be plenty of other games. A chance to watch political history unfold is much more rare.

Bob Hall is the editor at the Nelson Star. He can be reached at editor@nelsonstar.com

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