Kamloops Liberals elect new riding executive

A mostly new federal Liberal riding executive has been elected with a view to rebuilding the party in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.

Diane McLeod, a retired real-estate paralegal who worked on the campaign of former candidate Murray Todd last spring, fills the post of riding association president.

She indicated Friday that local Liberals have retrenched and made it clear to senior party officials that the organization needs to reconnect with its grassroots.

"That's very encouraging, and we're bringing new people into the party," she said.

Voter support for the party has declined steadily over the past three elections, to the point where the Liberals were fewer than 100 votes ahead of the fourth-place Green Party in May. Nationally, it was the worst defeat in the party's history.

"My thoughts are, the reason it's not been successful in the last few years - I will be absolutely blunt about this - is that the party got complacent," she said.

Membership has grown since the election, she added, with "lots of enthusiasm, lots of great ideas."

There is also recognition that the association waited too long to nominate a candidate for the 2011 election.

Other newly elected executive members include: Ernie Cordonier, vice-president; Carol Todd, membership chairwoman; and Ben Gayfer, youth chairman. Don Graham is past president and Chris Wilkinson was returned to the position of treasurer.

The party holds its biennial convention Jan. 13-15 in Ottawa, but won't hold a leadership vote until spring 2013.

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