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BEPPLE: Looking beyond Lake

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
June 24, 2016 - 7:45 AM



With Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake still undecided as to whether he will be running in the 2017 provincial election, speculation is already happening as to who will replace him.

One name which has surfaced is Steve Puhallo, executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association. Steve worked hard for the Liberals on the last provincial election. He was singled out for his work by Premier Clark at a party event after the 2013 election. He certainly has connections in the North Shore, though it’s not as clear how well known he is up the North Thompson valley. He was coy when asked if he’d be interested in running, waiting for Lake to make up his mind.

Steve has been a chief of staff and a regional organizer for the B.C. Liberals. He’s currently a director for the Kamloops-North Thompson Liberal riding association.

Some must also be wondering whether Mayor Peter Milobar would contemplate a run provincially if Lake stepped down. He’s into his third term as mayor, with a few terms as a councillor before that. The current council has been tough sledding since the beginning of the term. There was defeat of the performing arts centre and the abandonment of an aquatics centre on the North Shore. Accomplishments of this council have been paltry (or poultry), with backyard chickens, a pesticide ban and no wine in grocery stores three of the most well-known achievements to date. Milobar might relish a change of scenery where he wasn’t responsible for getting decisions made with eight others.

Milobar has no formal ties with the Liberal party, but he has had strong working relationships with the local MLAs as well as various ministers through both his role mayor of Kamloops and as chair of the TNRD.

One person I think is a possibility is Emile Scheffel. A young man from Kamloops, Emile has already been to Ottawa for school and work where he rubbed shoulders with federal politicians. In 2013, he was campaign operations coordinator on Terry Lake’s campaign, before ending up in Victoria in Premier Clark’s office, and as a ministerial assistant in Lake’s ministry. At present he’s working for CN in Vancouver. He continues to be a strong supporter of Christy Clark, tweeting out her government’s every move. Though he’s been gone from Kamloops for quite a few years, he is known by the Liberal’s Kamloops-North Thompson riding association, as well as having political connections from B.C. to the Atlantic. Scheffel hasn’t hesitated to go after what he’s wanted in the past.

Though younger, Scheffel’s backroom political experience is as deep or even deeper than Puhallo in terms of his political work. Although he’s been gone from Kamloops since 2007, Scheffel still identifies himself as a Kamloopsian on his twitter feed.

If Lake does decide to return to his teaching job at Thompson Rivers University rather than seek a third term, it will be interesting to see if any of the other three mean would be selected to run.

Puhallo and Scheffel have been dedicated to the Liberal party for years both in the Kamloops-North Thompson riding association and in Victoria. But only Milobar has proven himself as electable. More to the point, while Milobar lacks the backroom political experience, he’s proven himself where it counts – in front of the electorate.

Time will tell whether Lake takes the safe path in going back to teaching at TRU. But in the meantime, it’s always fun to speculate on his possible replacement.

— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.

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