Summerland’s All Candidates Forum drew a large number of local residents eager to hear the views of their riding’s candidates: Dan Ashton, Liberal Party; Connie Sahlmark, BC Green Party; and Tarik Sayeed, New Democratic Party.
The Summerland Chamber of Commerce and the Summerland Review co-hosted the event, which took place on Thursday, April 20 at Centre Stage.
At the forum the three candidates for Member of Legislative Assembly in the Penticton riding answered questions specifically related to Summerland, put to them by the moderator, local business owner, and Summerland Chamber of Commerce Board President, Erick Thompson.
Meet the candidates
Dan Ashton, Liberal Party
Today’s BC Liberals have acclaimed incumbent MLA Dan Ashton as the Party’s candidate in Penticton for the upcoming 2017 provincial election.
“My heart has always been in the Okanagan — it’s the reason I raised my family here,” says Ashton. “As your MLA, I believe in community partnerships, small business growth, investments in infrastructure, and sustainable social programs, and I intend to stay the course as a proud Okanagan resident.”
“We want our kids to have good paying jobs in the interior. We want them to choose to stay here — to build a successful career,” said Ashton. “Our communities are changing, no question, and there is still work to be done, but our future is exciting with a top performing economy and the best job creation record in the country.”
In helping to build partnerships at every level, Ashton has worked to deliver the $321 million Penticton Hospital project, $2 million to support the Penticton Downtown revitalization project, and new education funding for local school boards. He’s also helped to deliver investments in green infrastructure including $2.26 million for the Summerland water separation project, and $730,000 for the Summerland to Trout Creek trail.
Ashton is British Columbia’s Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Finance. He serves as a member of the Treasury Board, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, and was the Vice-Chair of the Cabinet Working Group on Core Review. Ashton has also been the Premier’s representative to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) since September 2014. In 2015, the PNWER membership elected Ashton their Vice President and, in the coming year, he is slated to become the President.
Connie Sahlmark, BC Green Party
Connie Sahlmark has resided in the Penticton area for just over 13 years. Orginally from Saskatchewan, her grandfather Alexander Sahlmark was a veteran and later an MLA.
“My vision for the Okanagan is to develop jobs in other markets than the service industry,” says Sahlmark. ” We live in the land of peaches and beaches but there are challenges retaining members of the workforce. Benefits of engaging the emerging clean energy and tech sectors as the backbone of our economy not only provides well-paying jobs but will lower the cost of living.”
“Climate change is here but it does not have to be a negative. This can be a tremendous opportunity,” says Sahlmark. “And the best place to be when opportunity knocks is at the forefront. We have the natural resources, the workforce, education/training centers; all that is needed is the political will to seize it. And BC Greens under Andrew Weaver are committed to pursuing sustainable broadly-based economic prosperity.”
“I am not a career politician. My background is in sustainable building and clean energy. If elected MLA, I can provide a strong edge in promoting green technology and the Okanagan,” said Sahlmark.
Sahlmark has been a full-time student for the past three years at Okanagan College taking the Sustainable Construction Management Technologies program which focuses on green building, renewable energy and resource conservation. She also held a seat on the Okanagan College Education Council for three consecutive years.
Connie participated last year in two protests against commercialization of local public parks, volunteered with the Save Skaha Park Society, as well as writing editorials and attending council meetings to speak to the issue.
Tarik Sayeed, New Democratic Party
A technology innovator and business-owner, Tarik Sayeed founded Baby Taxi Inc., a tech start-up that created gesture recognition software to translate American Sign Language into text and audio. He believes that growing the high-tech sector is essential to building a strong, stable economy.
“I love living in the Okanagan. There are so many amazing people that are working hard every day to make their lives better. As a Penticton City Councillor, I have worked hard for the people in our community, ” said Sayeed.
“I’m proud to stand with John Horgan and the BC NDP because we’ll put hard-working people first. We’re committed to proper funding for our kids’ schools, making life more affordable, and building a sustainable economy with jobs that pay better and jobs that last. It’s time to build a better B.C. One that works for everybody. You can count on me to work for you,” said Sayeed.
Sayeed, originally from Bangladesh, has lived in Penticton with his wife Tahira since 2008. He has held several leadership roles in Information Technology with companies such as JumpTV, Comcast, and First West Credit Union. In 2011, IT World Canada recognized Sayeed for his work by choosing him for its prestigious IT Manager of the Year Award; he finished in the top ten.
In January 2014, Tarik was recognized as Penticton’s Top 40 Under 40 for “demonstrating excellence in community service, entrepreneurship, innovation, and business”. Sayeed is well known in international news streams and the tech community. He was a guest speaker in Toronto for the largest TEDx conference in Canada.
The general provincial election will take place on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.