It seems far away now, but the day is rapidly approaching for people to go to the polls to determine the new MLA for the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding. Among those putting their name in the hat to replace incumbent Norm Macdonald is current mayor of Invermere Gerry Taft.
Mr. Tafts roots are deeply engrained in the town of Invermere already, growing up in the town before joining town council at the age of 20 in 2002. By 2008, Mr. Taft was elected as the mayor of Invermere and began serving as the Director on the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK). Besides being a successful local politician, he also owns and operates his own caf and gelato shop, Gerrys Gelati Cafe, which has been serving the valley since 2004.
He said that this time spent working in local government has highlighted the importance of provincial politics on the local level.
Most of the decisions that towns or regional districts can make are based on decisions made by the province either around rules, legislations or through funding and lack of funding and partnerships, he said.
Unlike Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok who is running for office, Mr. Taft will have to win the party nomination first against Spring Hawes (and possibly against other nominee candidates who may come forward), which will be decided in mid-October, Mr. Taft said. Members of the NDP provincial party will have the opportunity at that time to vote for Mr. Taft or Ms. Hawes if they have been members of the party for at least 90 days.
Mr. Taft said that he will continue to emphasize the importance of local communities if elected as an MLA.
I think the need of towns, cities, regions are becoming more autonomous or more in control of their own destiny, he said. In some cases the provincial or federal government are not getting out of the way and not helping and thats exactly what we need to do which is to encourage decisions to be made locally by those that are going to have the direct impacts.
For now he said he hopes voters recognize his experience of effort and dedication to municipal politics over the years when they go to the polls.
It does take sacrifice and it does take hard work and hopefully people ask those kinds of questions and think about that, especially when comparing the BC Liberal candidate who has never held local office or has never been elected to anything, he said. To compare that, there is a very different set of experiences.