If performance at Tuesday night's all-candidates forum at the Prestige Inn is the judge

Scoring the first forum

In so many ways, politics is a game. So when it comes to games, there is this innate urge to declare a winner.

In so many ways, politics is a game. So when it comes to games, there is this innate urge to declare a winner.

In the race for the Nelson-Creston seat, the ultimate champion will be declared on May 14 when you have your say at the ballot box. Between now and then, however, there will be several games within the game that can be scored.

The all-candidates forum Tuesday night at the Prestige Inn was the first opportunity to get a handle on how the candidates are doing so far in the campaign.

Liberal contender Greg Garbula came out of the blocks looking a little nervous. Not surprising given his lack of political experience. Once the questions started flying, Garbula settled in and did a decent job answering. He went off script a few times and wasn’t afraid to give answers (Jumbo, fracking) he knew would be unpopular with the Nelson crowd.

In contrast to Garbula, Green Party candidate Sjeng Derkx seemed comfortable. Derkx’s passion for what he believes in has prompted his candidacy and when you speak from your heart it’s that much easier. He attempted to spark more lively debate on a couple of occasions and though his rivals did not bite, it did provide at least some drama.

After four years in Victoria, NDP candidate Michelle Mungall can now be considered a veteran politician. The incumbent is smooth, confident and delivers her message very well. At times flipping through the NDP campaign booklet, Mungall was solid throughout the night.

So who won? Obviously the biggest winners were the 175-plus that crammed into the Prestige. But when it comes to the three vying for votes, the edge goes to Derkx.

The Green Party has nothing to lose in this election and Derkx knows it. He’s a passionate speaker who knows his party is not watching his every move. Though his party has comfortably moved out of the political fringe, he’s allowed to take more risks than his opponents knowing — and even stating Tuesday night — that his party will not be running the show in Victoria after May 14. His answers were honest and drew the largest audience response.

Mungall knows she is in for a spirited fight over the next three weeks. The incumbent wrapped up her closing remarks by telling supporters: “Nelson-Creston has a three way race… now is not the time to take a break from the ballot box.” Amongst other messages, it was a nod to the strength of her competitors. Game on.

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