Change is coming to Kootenay East

With Bill Bennett retiring, the riding is wide open

After four terms as MLA the ever-popular Bill Bennett is retiring from politics, which means change is coming to Kootenay East.

The number of residents who want a say in which individual will replace him remains to be seen. According to Statistics BC, only about 52 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2013 election. Elections BC shows that East Kootenay voters did not buck the provincial trend of staying home on election day.

Their data counted 30,733 eligible East Kootenay voters in 2013 but only 16,275 cast a ballot.

Voting is more than just a symbolic act. It’s more than something they push for in schools. It’s more than a stand against the rising tide of populism that is engulfing a lot of the word. It is an actual, tangible way to affect change.

Especially this time around.

In 2013, the colourful, smooth-talking Bennett and his BC Liberals might have been a shoe-in but according to the latest Global News Ipsos poll conducted between April 27 and 30 with a sample of 834 British Columbians, this election could be a close one.

The Liberals now have a two-point lead over the NDP. The poll found that 43 per cent of decided voters would probably vote for the Liberals, while 41 per cent would vote for the NDP. The BC Green Party currently has the support of 14 per cent of decided voters, which is up two points from the start of the campaign.

East Kootenay voters have a crop of untried and enthusiastic candidates to choose from. They should be informed of their options.

Will they vote for a party that is in favour of complete and utter deregulation? Should they make the environment their priority? Do they move to topple a right-of-centre government that’s been in power since 2001 or do they stick with the tried and true?

Or will they stay home on election day and leave it up to their friends and neighbours to decide?

If you skipped the last four elections, make sure to participate this time around. One way or another, a change in leadership is coming to the riding and the only way to affect that change is by casting a ballot on May 9.