While the Peace may be knee deep in snow right now, MLA candidates for both the Peace River South and North ridings have already begun thinking about May flowers and the spring provincial election.
“(2013)’s going to be a significant year ahead of us, for all British Columbians regardless of the political spectrum,” said outgoing Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom.
Lekstrom, who announced that he is not going to be seeking re-election, currently has three candidates aiming to take his spot.
Tyrel Pohl, an independent candidate and farm equipment salesman, believes that people want change and are looking for it from an independent candidate.
“I really that think that this time (being an independent) is really going to help because they’re tired of the same old bullying system and not really consulting us on what needs to be done,” he said.
His strategy is to win over voters face to face.
“I think that a lot of other candidates are going to focus on radio ads and signage,” he said. “What my plan is, is to go door to door, bang on the door, and say, ‘Are you going to vote for me?’ ” he said. “That’s what I plan to do and I hope that’ll give me a little edge.”
He also hopes to help register those who have not yet registered for the election.
“I just want people to go out and vote,” said Pohl. “It doesn’t matter as long as they go out there and make a decision.”
Another candidate is Conservative Party candidate and retired RCMP officer Kurt Peats.
Peats said earlier that he entered the race because he was tired of B.C. Liberal spending.
“We’ve just started our planning sessions and getting our team into place so that all of our critical tasks are being met,” he said. “Fundraising, designing campaign ads, designing everything that makes for a successful campaign.”
Along with Pohl, Peats also hopes to win voters with grassroots democracy.
“My priority and my goal is to knock on as many doors and speak to as many people as possible one to one, at the door, at the kitchen table wherever it may be,” he said. “I’m not interested in doing a shotgun approach with mass media, not that it’s important.”
The third candidate, Mayor Mike Bernier, also hopes to take up Lekstrom’s spot.
"I'll be the only person running so far who has any political experience," he said, noting both his term as mayor of Dawson Creek and his work with the Peace River Regional District.
"I think it's going to be exciting," Bernier added.
While he believes that people in Dawson Creek would know him from his experience as mayor, he hopes to reach out to other municipalities within Peace River South, such as Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge.
"It's more getting out to those areas," he said.
Like other candidates, he does not have a final campaign platform, and said that he hopes to learn more about the issues and challenges relevant to those areas.
Door to door campaigning will also be one of the areas that he hopes to gather support.
"I think it's important for everybody out there to talk to you."
In addition, he also hopes to use social media and town hall meetings to firm up voters.
North of Dawson Creek, the people in the Peace River North riding have two very different candidates.
The incumbent is Pat Pimm, the Liberal Party MLA with one term of experience.
He said that during his campaign, he hopes that people will recognize how he has advocated for the region’s needs.
“You’ve got to continue to listen to the people,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done.”
His only announced opponent, Arthur Hadland, has experience under his belt, albeit working as Director of Area C of the Peace River Regional District.
Hadland is running as an independent candidate because he said he was “absolutely disgusted with the party system.”
“(Party MLAS) don’t really represent the region if you vote them in,” he said. “Their first allegiance is to the party.”
Right now, he has drawn together a committee to work on his platform.
“I think one of the issues that we want to see addressed is balanced budgets, and we’re so far away from it,” he said. “We can set up strategies that will allow us to dig out of the hole.”
Currently, these two are the only ones who have announced their intentions to run. No NDP or Green Party candidates have been selected for the Peace River North or South ridings, according to their websites.
Don Main, an Elections Canada spokesman, said that candidates have until April to put their names in.
Pimm said that he believed that being part of a party caucus presented an advantage to him.
“You have to be inside that room, talking to your colleagues, and that’s what it takes to make change.”
However, Pimm believed that he acted as an independently conservative voice within the Liberal Party.
“I tell you, members of my caucus … they never know what’s going to come out of my mouth.”
But Hadland believed that running as an independent candidate presented an advantage to him.
“I think people are starting to look outside of (the party system),” he said. “You hear more from (the three independent party candidates) than you hear from any other party members, no matter which party it is.”
Lekstrom urged voters in the community to come out and vote on May.
“When I hear people who say, ‘I don’t have the time (to vote)’ or ‘I don’t see anyone I like’, they totally lose my respect,” he said.
Lekstrom also urged candidates to be honest with themselves and the public to win the election.
“My advice (to candidates) would be never sidestep a question,” he said. “I think everybody has a view … don’t try and not give your view because you think the person might not agree with you.”
Once they have won, Lekstrom also urged them to keep one thing in mind.
“Probably the biggest thing is don’t lose sight, the first priority you have and the main priority … is the people who elected you.”