It’s a riding that has voted Liberal and Social Credit for decades.
Liberal MLA Steve Thomson has been the voice for the riding of Kelowna-Mission in the legislature for the past seven years.
But with his upcoming retirement, three people are hoping they’ll become the politician’s replacement.
Kelowna businesswoman Renee Merrifield is one of the three candidates hoping to represent constituents in Victoria.
“It’s time for me to give back, it’s time for me to serve,” said the BC Liberal candidate.
Merrifield is the CEO of Troika Developments and was appointed as the candidate by Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson.
She told Global News that healthcare, housing and economic recovery are key priorities in the riding.
“I mean we’re talking about huge economic headwinds coming and people are scared,” said Merrifield, who lost tried to represent the area in federal politics, but lost in the Conservative nomination process to Tracy Gray in 2019.
“Governments don’t restart the economy, consumers do. So eliminating the PST, putting things on sale, really giving back to those that need it, that’s how we’re going to get through this.”
Merrifield said if elected, one of the first things she would tackle is to regionalize health priorities.
“How can we keep things moving forward here at a different pace than maybe where we have hotspots of COVID, but still protecting people and still keeping them safe?” she asked.
“So that’s probably one of my first initiatives.”
NDP candidate Krystal Smith is also running in Kelowna-Mission.
If elected, she would be the riding’s first-ever NDP MLA.
“John Horgan is the best choice to lead people through the pandemic, so I’m pretty optimistic people are going to support the B.C. NDP in this election,” Smith told Global News.
Smith, who is a government ministerial assistant, currently lives in Victoria but said Kelowna is near and dear to her heart.
“I know the riding very well,” Smith said. “I grew up there. I spend a lot of time there. My family is still there.”
Smith says healthcare, including long-term senior care, is a major priority for her and her party. But on a local level, she said economic recovery is also key for tourism-dependent cities like Kelowna.
“We are hoping to get back to, you know, a post-pandemic time, where we can have people visiting our city again,” she said, “and this is going to go a long way to ensuring that these people survive the pandemic.”
Smith said her first order of business would be to bring those tourism-related issues to the forefront if she were to be elected.
“Our tourism economy and having folks come visit us is one of the most important things to really make it through the next year or two,” Smith said.
Amanda Poon is running under the Green banner.
“I think it’s time for a change,” Poon told Global News.
An analyst with the Interior Health Authority, Poon said her background is what also motivated her to throw her name into the race.
“My family came from Hong Kong and democracy is dead in Hong Kong,” she said.
“They don’t have a right to run an election, they don’t have a right to really vote, so that’s one of my big motivators.”
Poon said climate change and its impact on the world, along with the pandemic, are key priorities that need to be addressed.
“We do need to think about the end of the world and climate change,” Poon said.
“That’s the most important thing that we need to be concerned with, along with the pandemic, but most people in this riding aren’t concerned with the end of the world.
“They’re just trying to get to the end of the month, and so the immediate thing that needs government attention right now is helping our small- and midsize-business owners and make sure that nobody closes their door this winter.”
Poon said if elected, rental subsidies and loan programs she and her party would focus on.
“We need to make sure that there are immediate, direct financial subsidies for the small businesses and the midsize businesses and families that need it,” she said.
“We need to make sure that we don’t just make broad, regressive statements that actually don’t target the people that need it because money is tight. We have a deficit in this province that is unparalleled, so we need to make sure that it’s the people who need it and not the already wealthy corporations that receive the aid.”
Voters will head to the polls on October 24.