Kyllo wins Shuswap Liberal nomination

Outgoing Shuswap MLA George Abbott congradulates Greg Kyllo on winning the Liberal Partry candidacy for the Shuswap riding at a convention held Saturday at the SASCU Recreation Centre.  - Salmon Arm Observer
Outgoing Shuswap MLA George Abbott congradulates Greg Kyllo on winning the Liberal Partry candidacy for the Shuswap riding at a convention held Saturday at the SASCU Recreation Centre.
— image credit: Salmon Arm Observer

Sicamous gets the nod once again.

Greg Kyllo, a councillor with the District of Sicamous, garnered strong support Saturday for his bid for the Liberal nomination in the Shuswap riding, winning on the first ballot.

Kyllo claimed 330 of the approximately 600 ballots cast.

He will be the Shuswap Liberal candidate in the next provincial election, replacing long-time MLA and Sicamous resident, George Abbott, who is retiring.

Kyllo defeated four other contenders, including former Salmon Arm mayor Marty Bootsma, former Spallumcheen mayor Will Hansma,  Salmon Arm business person Jordan Ross and former BC Wildlife Federation president Mel Arnold.

“Obviously I’m humbled and honoured and looking forward to the opportunity to represent the great communities of the Shuswap,” he told the Observer.

Kyllo is the president and owner of Twin Anchors Marine Group, which builds and rents houseboats. Nine years ago, Greg and his brother Todd expanded the business into TA Structures that specializes in constructing worker accommodations and offices for the oil, forestry and mining industries.

“It’s a testimony to the BC Liberals that we had five great candidates come forward,” Kyllo said, noting all their efforts during the campaign doubled the Liberal membership in the riding to a little over 1,200 members.

He said he thinks any of the other candidates could have done a fine job of representing the constituency.

Why him, then?

“I think my age is a good fit,” Kyllo says. “George (Abbott) was 44 when he was elected and I’m 44 now.”

He notes he worked hard for 25 years to  grow Twin Anchors, and now is ready to work till he’s 70 or so. His experience, he says, has included opportunities to develop job training, skills training and economic diversification.

Because Kyllo is a councillor with the District of Sicamous, he thinks he will have to take a leave of absence when the election writ is dropped. If he is successful on May 14, he would have to resign and then the district would hold a by-election.

Regarding the ‘Sicamous connection’ and why he thinks the relatively small community has produced two successful candidates in a row, Kyllo says, “Sicamous, I understand, has the highest per capita membership of BC Liberal members in the province.”

He said Sicamous itself has slightly more than 300 members with a year-round population of about 2,400. Salmon Arm, with a population about seven times that at 16,000, has about 500 Liberal members.

There are a number of reasons why Sicamous has a high number of Liberal members, he surmises, among them Abbott’s work making sure provincial dollars return to the town and the region.

While he said he is not close friends with Abbott, Kyllo has felt a lot of respect and admiration for him over the years.

Abbott is equally supportive of Kyllo.

“He is a well-known, respected member of the community, and he will provide great leadership in this area for years to come,” said Abbott following Kyllo’s win.

Despite polls that show the Liberals falling in popularity, Kyllo expects his party to defeat the NDP handily in the May election.

“I’m confident, as the continued support and growth of our membership within the riding is testament to the fact, although the polls may be telling us one thing, I certainly don’t hear or see that,” he said, noting he hears people expressing fear about the possibility of an NDP government.

He points out how polls were wrong regarding a predicted win for the Wild Rose party in Alberta as well as defeat of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals in Ontario.


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