Mark Thompson has joined the Kelowna West byelection race as the candidate for the B.C. Conservative Party.—Image: contributed

Five candidates confirmed for Kelowna West byelection

B.C. Conservative jumps into the race at the last minute

With the closure of the nomination period for the upcoming Kelowna West byelection Wednesday afternoon, Elections B.C, confirmed five candidates will vie to replace former MLA Christy Clark.

In addition to the already announced Ben Stewart (B.C. Liberal), Shelley Cook (NDP), Robert Stupka (B.C. Green Party) and Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian), the B.C. Conservative Party announced Wednesday afternoon it will also field a candidate.

Mark Thompson’s candidacy was not announced until after closure of the byelection nomination period.

A former city councillor in Saskatoon, Thompson has lived in Kelowna for more than 20 years and owns and operates an information technology company that caters to the retail sector.

He ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the B.C. Conservatives in Kelowna Mission in the 2009 provincial election and finished third, well behind winner Steve Thomson, who held the riding for B.C. Liberals. Prior to Thomson’s win, that riding was held by the late Sindi Hawkins.

In 2014, Thompson ran for mayor of Kelowna, finishing a distant third to winner Colin Basran. In 2011, he ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in Kelowna.

In its news release, the B.C. Conservatives said Thompson has had a long history with the party and has served in a number of roles, including as deputy leader.

Locally, Thompson also served as deputy chairman of the now defunct Kelowna Advisory Planning Commission.

On Wednesday, B.C. Conservative interim leader Scott Anderson welcomed Thompson’s entry into the byelection campaign.

“The citizens of Kelowna West deserve better and they should demand better. In Mark they will find an accomplished individual and a seasoned politician, and I can’t think of anyone better able to present our common sense platform to the citizens of West Kelowna,” said Anderson.

The Kelowna West byelection will go Feb 14.

The riding includes West Kelowna and downtown Kelowna and two all-candidates forms have been announced, one on each side of Okanagan Lake. On Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Westbank Lions Community Centre in West Kelowna, the Greater Westside Board of Trade and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce will host a forum. On Feb. 2, at 11:30 a.m., the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective will host a forum at the Okanagan Innovation Centre in downtown Kelowna.

Tickets are not required for the West Kelowna forum, but are for the Kelowna event. Those tickets are available here.

The public is invited to submit questions for the candidates at the Kelowna forum by emailing them to kelownawest2018@gmail.com before Jan. 29.

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