Race on to find a successor as Atamanenko announces retirement
BC Southern Interior NDP MP, Alex Atamanenko recently announced that he will not be seeking re-election in the next federal election, so the race will soon be on to find a successor to tackle what could be a tough race under new electoral boundaries.
Atamanenko, 68, said he decided not to run in the next election scheduled for Oct. 2015, because he feels he’s ready to retire.
“I’ve thought about it for a bit of time now,” he said. “I want to make sure I have some health when I retire. I just think it’s time. I think when a person reaches 70 years of age they should retire.”
Atamanenko said the recent change in the electoral boundaries that takes Nelson out of Atamanenko’s BC Southern Interior riding and puts it into the predominantly Conservative Kootenay Columbia riding, and puts the rest of the West Kootenay into a riding with Penticton – also predominantly Conservative – did not affect his decision to retire.
“I can tell you unequivocally that this had nothing to do with it,” Atamanenko said.
He did say that losing an NDP stronghold like Nelson and adding a Conservative haven like Penticton will likely make the election campaign for the NDP more difficult. But added that it’s certainly not a death sentence for the party in the region.
“There are lots of people in Penticton who belong to organized labour . . . and a lot of conservatives who are disgusted with what’s going on in the senate,” he said. “If we run a strong campaign with a strong message, we can hold this riding.”
But Atamanenko added that it’s imperative the party hit the ground running right away to find a candidate to succeed him so that he or she can get established and be ready to campaign in the next election.
He said the call for candidates will go out soon and there have already been some people expressing interest in the post.
Also on the map before another candidate and campaign can hit the ground is the establishment of a new NDP riding association for the newly mapped riding, dubbed South Okanagan/West Kootenay.
Atamanenko couldn’t give a firm deadline for having the new candidate in place, but said he expects the formation of the new riding association to happen sometime in January of February.
“I would like to have this as soon as humanly possible,” he added. “That’s the reason I wanted to announce my intentions now, as opposed to a year from now – because we need to get a candidate on the ground to start gearing up for the next election.”
Atamanenko added that he will be holding down his current post as MP in full capacity until the next election is called.
“I’m here until the election is called,” he said. “It’s business as usual. Nothing has changed.”