While the provincial election is more than four months away, local candidates have campaign teams in place and are spending hours each week building support.
That includes during the Christmas season when opposing candidates, Kamloops-South Thompson Liberal Todd Stone and New Democrat Tom Friedman, met with voters downtown.
“That’s one of the chief ways we’ll proceed over the next 4½ months: talking and listening to people on their door steps,” Friedman said. “It’s important to meet people. Some want to know their candidate. They don’t vote along party lines.”
Stone also campaigned downtown in the days before Christmas, accompanied by an entourage that included his campaign manager, Hoberly Hove, a former high school principal and longtime party member.
Just like Friedman, Stone said his goal in the months leading to the May 13 election is to become recognized as the governing party’s candidate. Stone picked up the party nomination after incumbent Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger announced earlier this year he would not run in 2013.
To better achieve that recognition, the businessman and TRU board of governors member has plastered his face on two city transit bus wraps.
“The first phase for us is to get my name out there,” Stone said. “I’m well known in business circles downtown and at TRU but I’m under no illusions. We need to work on name recognition.”
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake, a former mayor and current minister of environment, needs little introduction to voters but he also recently paid for advertising on city buses. The bus wraps feature a photo of him with his dog, including the phrase, “I love the North Shore.”
“It’s to remind people I’ve been working in the community for 10 years. A large part of that is building up and helping to develop the North Shore, starting as a councillor and mayor.”
Kathy Kendall, Lake’s New Democrat opponent, said she’s been attending events and knocking on doors for months. But she is not yet committing a significant budget to advertising.
“Historically, the Liberals always outspent the NDP in advertising and the campaign in general,” Kendall said.
“Tom (Friedman) and I are doing business-card size ads in newspapers. But we’re only doing that right now.”
Kendall, a family lawyer, said her chief goal in the run-up to the election is also to connect with voters.
“People are very receptive to the party’s message of change. As you know, my opponent has been in the public eye for a very long time. That can help or hurt.”
Commitment by candidates will ramp up in the coming months. Stone estimates he already spends about half his working time on the campaign.
Friedman is preparing by only teaching one course at TRU in the coming semester, where he is professor of English. That compares to 2008, when he was nominated just three months before the election.
“Starting in January, we’ll campaign four to five times a week.”
The upstart B.C. Conservative party has yet to nominate candidates. Peter Sharp, a former Kamloops councillor who is running for the party in Kamloops-South
Thompson, said the party’s nomination date is Feb. 7. He is running against Maria Dobi, who represented the party last election.
Meanwhile, the party has yet to find a candidate for Kamloops-North Thompson.