The BC NDP are putting forward their candidate for the Boundary-Similkameen riding three days after Premier John Horgan called a snap election.
Roly Russell was announced along with seven other NDP candidates following the close of voting for contested nominations last night, the BC NDP stated in a press release Thursday.
The announcement follows Oliver town Coun. Petra Veintimillla's appointment to run for the BC Liberals earlier this week.
Russell is the director for Electoral Area D (Rural Grand Forks) in the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary (RDKB), and is the founder of the Sandhill Institute for Complexity and Sustainability in Grand Forks.
Russell told the Times-Chronicle Thursday that after eight years in local politics he realized the need to head to Victoria to invoke real change.
"I kind of accidentally ended up in (politics) and I really, really enjoy it. But I realized a lot of the work that I really enjoyed is advocating on behalf of our communities to Victoria and I am trying to make that change to provincial policies or opportunities," Russell said. "It seems like a good idea to throw my hat in the ring to help make that change from the inside."
Russell won the party nomination contest this week over Oliver town Coun. Aimee Grice, in what he described as a tough-fought contest.
"The nomination race was was tough and tougher than I expected. I want to acknowledge and thank my competition, and I think it was it was a good learning experience. I had a good challenge and she was a formidable opponent," Russell said.
With many British Columbians irked by the snap election, Russell said he sees the logic in Premier John Horgan's decision.
"I think next year is going to be really hard too, COVID is not going anywhere. I have kids in school, it's challenging figuring out what all is going on, and how everything is changing. It is pretty hard to predict what things are gonna look like next year as well," Russell said. "So I see the logic and I and I recognize the value in the decision."
In the party statement announcing the nomination, Russell outlines his priorities including protecting the health of B.C. forests, economic resilience, affordability and housing, addressing climate change and supporting local communities.
"As a rural, local leader we don't get that luxury of picking one issue and just focusing on that. So, recognizing that, we hear a lot of need for change in forest stewardship, and what that looks like, so that that's kind of close to my heart," Russell said. "And climate change is frightening for me, frankly, on on a global scale. That's an issue that I think, is going to be front and centre regardless of whether we want it to be or not."
Climate and sustainability plans need to take into account local business as well, Russell noted.
"This rural part of BC, you know, we're communities full of small businesses and I think that economic development and really nurturing those small/medium businesses is another facet of what I really love to try to figure out. How do we do that? How do we help reduce some of the barriers for small farms, or whether that's our small industry, retail operations and really keep our communities resilient?"
Founder of the Sandhill Institute in Grand Forks, Russell has a background in conservation biology, marine ecology, sustainability science and a doctorate in ecology.
"Basically looking at how communities or societies make decisions that lead to sustainable outcomes or sustainable futures or not. And so (the Sandhill Institute) is an independent research organization that is basically the house for my academic work," he said.
Russell has served on the RDKB board since 2013, including two terms as chair. He is currently the president of the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments and chair of the Grand Forks Credit Union board of directors.
“This place is my home — I was born here — and I am passionate about making sure that we sustain and keep this a beautiful and sustainable region to earn a living and raise our families,” Russell said in a press release. “John Horgan’s leadership in the face of the pandemic and the BC NDP government’s willingness to navigate creative solutions following the 2018 floods cemented my decision to run for MLA."
“We all remember the deep cuts the previous BC Liberal government made to key services that people need, and we can’t afford to go back to those dark days. I’m eager to work with a John Horgan government to keep the Boundary-Similkameen and BC moving forward.”
British Columbians head to the polls Oct. 24.
Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle