MP Wayne Stetski cuts ribbon on Nelson constituency office
Wayne Stetski of the NDP knocked on almost every door in the Kootenay-Columbia riding during the 2015 Federal Election.
That strategy enabled the former Cranbrook Mayor to upset incumbent David Wilks by the slimmest of margins — 285 votes — to capture the Kootenay-Columbia riding.
Which is why Stetski has decided to hold down two constituency offices, opening the second on the West Kootenay side of the Purcell Mountains Wednesday afternoon.
Many supporters joined Stetski during the official opening on the fifth floor of the Nelson City Hall.
“What I said during the election was that I would have a consistency office in Cranbrook and another one here in Nelson . . . .. There’s really no other way to do it,” Stetski told The Nelson Daily during a break from well-wishers during Wednesday ceremony.
“When I was regional manager for Environment (Ministry) I had offices in Nelson, Cranbrook, Revelstoke and Invermere,” Stetski added.
“The second largest office I had in Nelson was in pink building. So really I’ve just moved from the pink building to the white building.”
During his speech Wednesday, Stetski, replacing British Columbia Southern Interior Alex Atamanenko as the MP for Nelson area after the Heritage City was moved into the Kootenay/Columbia riding, applauded the support he received from voters in the West Kootenay.
On election night in October, with 20 polls to go, the CBC declared Wilks the victor despite Stetski leading by several votes.
With eight polls left to come in Wilks officially pulled back ahead by 158 votes.
However, after the advance polls in the Nelson were counted, Stetski surged ahead at the wire and pulled off the win, with 23,529 votes to Wilks’ 23,244 — a difference of 285 votes.
“It’s really important we serve the West Kootenays to the best of our ability and the only way to do that is by having an office right here in Nelson so that people can very easily come get hold of staff and me when I’m here,” Stetski explained.
For MP’s, Ottawa is home for at least six months of the year.
However, with two very reliable staff members in Nelson, Stetski has no worries the constituents will be well serviced when he’s not in the riding.
“The important part is that staff is here all the time,” Stetski said.
“We have really good staff in Curtis (Bendig) and Gail (Hunnisett). . .. These two people are both experienced constituency assists so they know how to get the job done.”
Of course, Nelson and Cranbrook are not the only places this Kootenay/Columbia MP holds court.
There are many other parts of the riding Stetski plans to see, on a regular basis.
“When I was back for eight days, I spent four of them in Field, Golden and Revelstoke,” he explained. “This visit, I was in Kaslo and Nelson.”
“My office is partly my car but we wanted have a fixed office for the East and West Kootenays, which is why we chose Nelson.”