The two-race race that is the Westside-Kelowna byelection continued to be just that Thursday evening as a packed house at the all candidates forum was nearly evenly split between NDP candidate Carole Gordon supporters and those that came out to show support for premier Christy Clark and her Liberal government.
By a show of applause at the outset, Gordon supporters may have been just a little louder with their applause, though by night’s end, it was Clark who received the heaviest and warmest applause.
All eight candidates, including independents Korry Zepik, Dayleen Van Ryswyk, Silverado Brooks Socrates and John Marks, as well as Jag Bhandari of the BC Vision Party and Sean Upshaw representing the provincial Conservative party were on hand along with Clark and Gordon.
Moderator for the evening was Adrian Nieocym of CBC Radio in Kelowna who asked questions pretaining to issues targeted as key among voters in the topics of transportation, economy and agriculture. None of the candidates knew what the line of questioning was going to be prior to the forum, so all responses were basically off the cuff. Each candidate had exactly two minutes to respond to each question and no questions were allowed from the floor.
Clark may have gotten got the biggest and most positive response for her willingness to tackle the issue of a second bridge over Okanagan Lake saying “I believe it’s time for us to start planning a second crossing,
“Let’s get to work on it now,” said the premier. “If we can do it in the lower mainland, we can do it here.”
Her adversary, Gordon, was less convinced the second bridge idea is a good one, instead chastising designers of the current bridge for not building enough lanes in the first place, and wondered about taking on such an expense.
“The question is, how are we going to pay for it,” said Gordon.
Gordon was more specific and passionate about another transportation topic, namely Westside Road which has been voted the worst, and possibly most dangerous, in the province on more than one occasion.
“Westside Road needs to be brought up to provincial standard,” said Gordon.
Also on the subject of transportation was the West Kelowna couplet which dissects the downtown area by having separate highways for traffic going north and traffic driving south, thereby dividing the downtown region into three areas.
“The couplet does break up downtown and businesses have suffered because of it,” suggested Van Ryswyk who also provided the most dramatic moment of the night when she took a personal swipe at Clark, providing no context nor explanation for her choice of words.
“I’m interested to see what other goodies she (Clark) is going to promise,” stated Van Ryswyk. “Maybe someone needs an ovary.”
The statement drew a few gasps from the crowd, while Clark, who avoided diatribes against other candidates, looked visibly upset at the remark.
With few exceptions candidates took every chance they could to take a cut at the premier, though Upshaw may have had the most popular comment of the evening when he mentioned: “I wonder if she is Christy Clark or Kris Kringle with all the promises she’s making.”
The byelection takes place July 10.