West Kelowna  

Pending byelection a two-horse race

There is a full field of competitors, but when it all comes down to dust, the upcoming Westside-Kelowna byelection is really just a two-horse race. A roster of eight candidates are vying for the seat, which was left vacant when MLA Ben Stewart stepped aside.

With less than two weeks before voting takes place, NDP candidate Carole Gordon is a not-too-close second to front-running candidate the Honourable Christy Clark. Nevertheless,if  pre-election polls prove anything, it's simply that they cannot be relied upon.

For instance, in the provincial election in May, the NDP showed strong in the polls - leading right up to the day of voting - but it was Clark's Liberal government which prevailed. Clark has now served as premier of the province - the 35th premier - since she was sworn in March 14, 2011.

Both candidates have something to prove, having previously each lost to their respective competitors in May. Gordon went down to defeat at the hands of Stewart in the Westside-Kelowna riding, while Clark lost her seat to David Eby in Vancouver-Point Grey.

All four of those individuals are currently in Kelowna as of today. Eby will join Gordon at the West Kelowna Days parade this morning, then will compaign door-to-door with the NDP candidate as they attempt to duplcate Eby's feat in Vancouver-Point Grey by changing the outcome with a personal effort.

Meanwhile, Stewart has joined Clark's campaign staff and the two are equally diligent in their campaigning.

While Gordon is a local candidate, having lived in the area for more than four decades, Clark is BC born and raised and in addition to serving as leader of the province for the past two years, she also has a solid political background and plenty of experience as both an MLA and a minister.

While she was MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey until last May, she also served as MLA for the Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain riding from 1996 through 2001. From 2001 until 2005 she was MLA for Port Moody-Westwood riding. But, she also served as deputy premier, held portfolios as Minister of Education as well as Minister of Family Development. She also served as vie-chair of Treasury Board and has previously sat on the select standing committee on environment and tourism and on the official opposition caucus committee for children.

Among her personal initiatives was the creation of "pink shirt day" to counter bullying. Clark received several awards including YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, and the 2009 Woman of the Year in BC chosen by Consumer Choice Awards.

She was born and raised in Burnaby and graduated Burnaby South Senior Secondary School before attending Simon Fraser University, then, in turn, University of Paris Sorbonne in France, then University of Edinburgh in Scotland where she studies both political science and religious studies.

But, what if the premier should lose the coming byelection? Well, she will remain premier as the premier does not need to be a member of the legislative assembly to lead the provincial government, but she must have a seat in the house in order to participate in debates.

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